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OrCaSa sees fertile discussions for soil preservation at COP28

One of the highlights of COP28, held in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December 2023, was the agreement on fossil fuels. However, another noteworthy achievement of this edition was the signature of the Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action by a total of 158 nations committed to integrating food into their climate plans by 2025.

Bringing food systems into climate discussions means also considering soil protection and conservation issues. Dr. Jean-François Soussana, Vice-Chair for international affairs at INRAE, and Dr. Ahmad Al Bitar, CNRS scientist working at the Center for Spatial Studies of the BIOsphere (CESBIO), were in Dubai to represent the ORCaSa project at COP28.

‘The increase in soil carbon sequestration has not yet reach its full potential’, notes Ahmad. ‘The subject was widely debated at COP28 and the ORCaSa project was invited to the Korea Pavilion by the Kyung Hee University (KHU) Applied Ecology Lab team to present its latest innovations’ (session: AgriCarbon-EO, a hybrid Monitoring, Reporting & Verification (MRV) approach that combines modelling, remote sensing, and assimilation).

In the framework of the ORCaSa project, he collaborates to raise awareness and develop scientific knowledge and methods on how to measure, report and verify soil carbon for crop lands, thanks to a harmonised framework. Indeed, increasing soil carbon stocks and monitoring them are directly aligned with the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

‘The increase in soil carbon sequestration has not yet reach its full potential, but the subject was widely debated at COP28.’

Today, there is a wide range of tools, parameters, data, and application contexts that enable MRV methods for soil carbon stock changes. In that way, and considering the diversity of soils (agricultural, forests, pastures, wetlands, public spaces in urban areas, etc.), an easy-to-use harmonised framework will greatly facilitate the day-to-day work of many experts in the environmental sector.

Korea is paving the way to urban soil carbon solutions

COPs are important networking moments, and the ORCaSa team did not miss the opportunity to share knowledge with their Korean peers on the topic of urban soil carbon. Indeed, the KHU Applied Ecology Lab is currently carrying out the Korean Carbon Project (KCP), which aims to develop ‘a national greenhouse gases information system using a hybrid monitoring approach’. By tracking carbon uptake flows, the Koreans are working on building detailed absorption maps to better understand and address the question of soil permeability in cities.

Increasingly frequent and extreme floods are reshaping urban areas and showing their vulnerability to climate change. Finding alternatives to concrete such as more green areas will help urban cities to reduce the effects of climate change, particularly the ‘urban heat islands‘ happening during the heat waves.

Thanks to the Soil Carbon International Research Consortium (IRC) established by the ORCaSa partners and the Impact4Soil platform they are developing and which will be available in a few weeks’ time, sharing knowledge and scientific insights on soil carbon at global scale is being encouraged in order to advance new policies for climate change adaptation and mitigation.