AT-3

Solution Cluster 3.3.3

Global Soil Hub

Investing in Land Restoration and Ecosystem Services for Human Well Being and Climate

To establish a multi-stakeholder coalition to facilitate the adoption and scaling of restoration practices that improve soil health in productive landscapes through investment and policy action. Specifically, we propose to develop a global mechanism and process (including tools for monitoring outcomes across different scales) to guide and catalyze public and market-based private sector investments in soil health with outcomes for economic returns and growth, productivity and rural livelihoods, climate and nature.

About this Solution Cluster

Soil health is at the foundation of our food systems, while also playing a critical role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, enhancing above and belowground biodiversity, and increasing food and nutrition security. But today, our soils face an unprecedented crisis, and if we continue as business as usual, we will lose the battle to sustain and restore this crucial natural asset, without which we cannot meet the Paris Agreement, biodiversity or LDN goals. Globally, 75 billion tons of topsoil are lost annually, with carbon stocks depleted by 40-60%, equal to USD $400bn in lost agricultural production. Stewards of our soil and ecosystems face critical economic, structural and technical capacity barriers that impede the adoption and scaling of healthy soil practices. By developing robust mechanisms, methods, and market solutions, this solution cluster proposes to fill major investment gaps, advancing soil health and restoration at scale to: 1)  Support productivity and livelihood opportunities; 2) Maintain biodiversity; 3) Mitigate and enhance resilience to climate change; 4) Increase water quality and renewability; 5) Prevent economic losses and land conflict.

Greater investment is the key to overcoming the critical economic technical and structural barriers to scale the adoption of healthy soil practices – this will further facilitate enabling policies, capacity development, and collaboration. This solution cluster will work as it will focus on:

  • Enhancing collaboration amongst the multiple actors working on soil health issues across the globe to attract support from those interested in food and nutrition security, biodiversity, climate change, sustainable and equitable livelihoods, rural development, and other issues.
  • Investing in soil health is critical for achieving public policy goals including: NDCs, NAPs, NAMAs, restoration targets and climate policies that incorporate land use issues.
  • Addressing the primary barriers to the adoption and scaling of practices to restore soil health – finance and enabling policy.
  • Embedding science in farmer-focused solutions to enhance transparency of investment as well as provides rigorous monitoring to support decision making.
  • Developing needed mechanisms to reward or compensate farmers and land managers to overcome the economic barriers that inhibit the adoption of practices that support healthy soil and hence broader ecosystem restoration, including mineral and organic (peatland) soils.
  • Focusing broadly on soil health versus a commodity-based focus, which many other initiatives have, allows inclusion of more family and smallholder farmers around the world as it will be agnostic to approach/practice and focus on impact (using multiple variables).
  • Supporting agri-food system corporate boardrooms to adopt and operationalize commitments to investing into this critical asset- healthy soil.
  • Acknowledging different enabling environments to employ a tiered system for tracking and monitoring to allow for different data contexts to support monitoring commitments.
  • Integrating the use of evidence to leverage investments (locally, regionally and globally) as a key opportunity to de-risk investments.
  • Convene public and private investors (banks, funds, businesses, governments, development organization and other stakeholders
  • Develop stakeholder engagement approaches designed to integrate evidence and learning into programme and policy development.
  • Build on the methods, tools, guidelines for building and maintaining soil health that are already known and proven and thus immediately actionable.
  • Coordinate with the many ongoing science-based initiatives – including those led by farmers – with knowledge and experience to provide guidance for investment decisions and mechanisms to instil best practices for measuring, reporting and validating soil health indicators, and to support different actors in navigating the complex landscape of technical standards relating to soil solutions and other accounting needs to develop demand for soil health investments (i.e. standards for generating soil carbon credits, credit accounting and monetizing value streams.)
  • Develop standardized investment assessment framework for soil and ecosystem health to align promising financial mechanisms to support farmers and ranchers to adopt healthy soil practices. This will promote long term perspective on ROI. This will focus on ensuring healthy soils are classified as assets, and enable the quantification and demonstration of the private and public benefits of investing into soil health practices.
  • Facilitate an alignment among investors, financial markets and key stakeholders to address the needed scaling of investment to systematically shift the economic incentives for farmers and other soil stewards to adopt healthy soil practices to create a market demand signal.
  • Work with farmers to design economic incentives and support mechanisms to address the obstacles to implementing soil health practices and build capacity for implementation.
  • Provide a portfolio of soil investment mechanisms that can be prioritized to scale healthy soil solutions to leverage the millions of dollars of private sector investments to focus public (and additional private funds) in a meaningful way and vice versa, promoting complementarity and avoiding duplication or replication of efforts.
  • Establish tiered national and global tracking mechanisms and systems.(e.g. Natural Capital Accounting, Impact Investing, CO2 Accounting to provide empirical and quantitative data to support soil health investment framework for positive return on investments and provide further momentum for systemic shifts to soil health investments.
  • Engage in public-private sector policy dialogue to ensure that an enabling environment for promoting soil health exits to facilitate investment and scaling potential

On 5 June 2021 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration was launched to galvanize local, national and global action to restore degraded ecosystems, signalling the increased awareness among policy makers, private sector and farmers about the importance of soil health. This cluster will link with a number of initiatives: 4per 1000, UNCCD LDN goals, Global Soils Partnership, Living Soils in the Americas, WOCAT, the Soil Health Initiative, RECSOIL, Soils4Climate, the Soils Investment Hub of WBCSD, as well as UNFCCC and CBD as well as Action Track 5 on building ecosystem resilience

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