Wetlands International Europe signifies wetland soil’s importance by signing the EU Mission Soil Manifesto

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Wetlands International Europe is now a signatory to the EU Mission Soil Manifesto! As signatories, we emphasise the crucial role of soil for food production, water retention and filtration, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and cultural heritage conservation.

Wetland soils play a crucial role in climate and water regulation, offering cost-effective nature-based solutions that address multiple environmental challenges simultaneously. By restoring and conserving soil sponge functions, we can store carbon, enhance resilience against floods and droughts, purify water, and safeguard biodiversity. However, land-use change in Europe has led to significant loss of wetlands and soil sponges, particularly affecting floodplains, and peatlands. Approximately half of the wetlands in Europe have been lost in the past 300 years, surpassing the rate of forest loss and underscoring the urgent need for wetland conservation and restoration efforts. For some countries – such as the UK, Ireland, or Germany – it is estimates that even 75% of wetlands have been lost.

Mission objectives

As signatories to the Mission, our commitment involves advocating for concerted and streamlined efforts to protect and restore soils, acknowledging their vulnerability to degradation from unsustainable practices and climate change. We commit to the goals of the Mission ‘A Soil Deal for Europe’ (Mission Soil) which aims to protect and restore soils, promote sustainable management practices, and increase soil literacy. In more detail, the objectives of the Mission are:

  1. Reduce land degradation relating to desertification;
  2. Conserve and increase soil organic carbon stocks;
  3. No net soil sealing and increase reuse of urban soils;
  4. Reduce soil pollution and enhance restoration;
  5. Prevent erosion;
  6. Improve soil structure to enhance soil habitat quality for soil biota and crops;
  7. Reduce the EU global footprint on soils;
  8. Increase soil literacy in society across Member States.

The mission is integrated into the legal architecture of the Green Deal through ties with the EU Soil Strategy, the Directive on Soil Monitoring and Resilience (Soil Monitoring Law), the EU Soil Observatory (EUSO), the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The Manifesto is an additional call to action and aims at uniting a community of practice for soil protection. Currently, the Manifesto has been endorsed by 430 legal entities and more than 2200 people.


In concert with our members, we are already implementing many of the missions’ objectives on the ground. For example, we implemented natural water retention measures in the Kylldal Catchment in the German Middle Mountains. Based on that project, our recent peer-reviewed findings on the ability of wetland soils to contribute to flood and drought prevention as natural sponges by reducing flood peaks and increasing base flows, while simultaneously filtering nutrients, highlights the multi-benefits of healthy soils. We are also advancing the Missions’ objectives through our policy advocacy work. For example, we called for recognition and investment into in the natural sponge functions of soils during the negotiations on the on the Soil Health Law. In addition we advocated for strong sustainability criteria for the EU Carbon Removal Certification Framework.

How to get involved?

Through our support to the Mission Soil objectives, we hope to draw attention to soil protection, especially wetland soils which address multiple environmental challenges simultaneously. If you’re interested in supporting the objectives of the mission, you can become a signatory either through your organization or as an individual friend of the mission soil. For further information on the Manifesto please visit the website of the Mission Soil Manifesto.