The 13th Conference of the Parties (COP) on the fight against desertification is taking place in China from Sept. 6 to 16, 2017. In preparation for this event, the World Future Council identified, on a planetary scale, the most innovative policies and those best placed to stop soil degradation and desertification. As part of this, the jury selected the innovative French-initiated 4 per 1000 Initiative!

Launched on the international scene as part of the COP 21 Paris climate conference in December 2015, the 4 per 1000 Initiative invited all signatory partners of the common declaration to implement concrete actions for storing carbon in soils and promotes the type of practices to achieve it (agro-ecology, agroforestry, or conservation agriculture, for example).

By capturing CO2 in the air, via photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon. By decomposing, the plants will produce organic matter that will store the carbon in the soils, which constitutes the largest stock of carbon on the planet. This carbon sequestration in the earth allows to improve soil health, reinforce ecosystems and to increase agricultural production.

The researchers of the French National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) have discovered that by increasing the organic matter in agricultural soils each year by 4 grams per 1000 would allow us to limit the current growth of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.

Thanks to this initiative, agriculture take a central place in the fight against climate change, all while guaranteeing better food security for populations.

According to the United Nations, the loss of arable soils is happening today 30 to 35 times faster than in the past.

Desertification and deforestation, caused by human activities and climate change, are major challenges, with disastrous repercussions on the lives and means of sustenance of populations. We estimate that 135 million people risk displacement if no action is taken to rehabilitate degraded soils. The cause of this is both the lack of continuity in policies, but also deforestation, overgrazing of pastures, and poorly performing irrigation systems. By targeting an improvement in soil carbon sequestration, the 4 per 1000 Initiative participates in the restoration of degraded soils.