4 Per 1000 | Soils for Food Security and Climate

Human activities release enormous quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This intensifies the greenhouse effect and accelerates climate change. The world soil contains 2 to 3 times more carbon than the atmosphere. Increasing this storage of carbon by 4 parts for 1000 in the top 30 or 40cm of the soil could stop the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. This is the proposal of the “4 parts for 1000, soils for food security and climate”.


4 Per 1000 Signatories Meet for 1st Time at Cop22

Published: December 14, 2016

More than 200 organizations have already signed the “4 per 1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate,” representing important progress for soil, agriculture and climate.

Bringing together civil society, nations, international funds and organizations was a challenge; bringing together 200 of them around a table on the question of agriculture and soils was a victory. The 4 per 1000 Initiative, launched by French Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Le Foll one year ago during the COP21 Paris climate conference, has since grown in notoriety and united for the first time its 200 members – including 37 countries – November 17th in Marrakech.


“4 Per 1000 Initiative” Brings Agriculture to the Forefront of the Global Climate Stage –first Official Members Meeting at COP22

Less than a year after launching in Paris at COP21, french Minister of Agriculture, Stéphane Le Foll kicked off the first official meeting of the “4 per 1000: Soils for Food Security and Climate” initiative (which champions the use of agricultural soils to act as a “carbon sink”), during an official side event of COP22 in Marrakech.

The meeting was organized into four distinct blocks: the Forum, “a consultation body” of the initiative’s participants and supporters, a Consortium, for determining strategic direction and governance (effectively a board of directors), a Scientific / Technical Committee, and the 4/1000 International Research Group.

The international agricultural and climate community showed enthusiastic support for the initiative, among nations and across sectors. Ministers of agriculture from Morocco and Spain joining Le Foll during the opening of the Consortium, as well as chief executives from the FAO of the UN and CGIAR. “I’m very happy to see how successful this initiative has become. We’ve got to keep the momentum going,” Le Foll announced.

An additional nine nations joined the initiative in the last year. There are now signatories from 34 nations, including Senegal which signed on during the day, and from hundreds of organizations from the civil society sector, businesses and research institutes.

The recognition of the global community’s growing consensus of the science supporting the vast potential of soils to sequester carbon, and the necessity of improving soil quality to ensure global food security was widely acknowledged throughout the day.

“COP22 has been dubbed the “COP of agriculture” and that is in large part due to the 4/1000 and its efforts to bring carbon sequestration to the forefront of the climate solutions conversation,” said Finian Makepeace, Director of Policy at Kiss the Ground.


Organic Agriculture Can Help Address Climate Change, Feed the World

The role organic agriculture can play in fighting climate change effects and in boosting food security was the main theme of a debate held in the COP22 Green Zone by the federation of Moroccan organic agriculture professionals (known by its French acronym FIMABIO.)

Speaking on this occasion, Andre Leu, President of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), underscored that organic agriculture can reverse climate change.

He highlighted the global momentum towards adopting organic agriculture to counter climate change, notably through the “4 for 1000” initiative, which aims to increase the amount of organic matter in soil by 4 per thousand (0.4%) each year, which would be enough to compensate for all global greenhouse gases emitted due to human behavior.

Organic agriculture practices are conducive to the global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before the point of no return, he said.


France’s 4 Per 1000 Initiative Makes Important Advances

France’s innovative 4 per 1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate has made significant progress over the past year in preparation for the COP22 climate change conference taking place now in Marrakesh, Morocco.

As a reminder, the 4 per 1000 Initiative was launched by France in 2015 to bring together all willing partners (national governments, local and regional government, companies, trade organizations, NGOs, research facilities, and others) to commit together in a voluntary action plan to implement farming practices that maintain or enhance soil carbon stock on as many agricultural soils as possible and to preserve carbon-rich soils. Scientific studies have found that an annual increase of 0.4% of carbon stored in soils would make it possible to stop the present increase in atmospheric CO2, which is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and climate change.

The aim of the Initiative is to demonstrate that agriculture, and agricultural soils in particular, can play a crucial role where food security and climate change are concerned. Some ways that agriculture can achieve this is by using innovative techniques such as no-till farming practices, which increase the amount of microorganisms present in soils and increase soil fertility and carbon sequestration. Other examples include the promotion of agroforestry, introducing more intermediate crops, restoring soil quality in places with poor conditions, and better landscape management. Increasing carbon sequestration in soils enhances soil fertility and combats land degradation aiming to improve food security.


Agriculture Takes Center Stage As COP22 Begins in Morocco

Author: Judith Schwartz November 7, 2016

COP21, the global climate conference in Paris last year, resulted in an agreement on cutting atmospheric carbon. Now, COP22, which starts today in Marrakech, Morocco, will focus on how the world will adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects, especially in developing countries. The meeting is expected to have a greater focus on agriculture, and specifically on Africa.

In Paris, agricultural solutions—notably soil’s role as a carbon sink—entered global climate discussions. The chief vehicle was the French-led 4-per-1,000 Initiative, a pledge to increase carbon stocks in agricultural soils by 0.4 percent a year, a rate that proponents said would stem the rise of atmospheric carbon. The objective, says the French Ministry of Agriculture, “is to show that agriculture is part of the solution. It aims to increase organic carbon storage in soils, with a goal of improving food security and mitigating and adapting to climate change.”

Four-per-1,000 has more than 170 signatories, including 32 countries. The U.S. has not publicly supported it, instead aligning with the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture, which is more oriented toward industry and includes biotechnology as one approach.

A new initiative, Adaption of African Agriculture (AAA), would place agriculture at the heart of climate talks. At a September meeting, a coalition of 27 African nations adopted the “Marrakesh Declaration,” which calls attention to the continent’s vulnerability to climate irregularities—such as the drought that has left 30 million southern Africans food insecure—and the risks borne by smallholder farmers.


Prince Charles Joins Clean Soil Project to Combat Climate Change

Author: Fiona Harvey 

Prince Charles urged governments, individuals and businesses to take greater care of the world’s soils as part of an initiative aimed at keeping carbon locked in soil, rather than escaping into the atmosphere and causing global warming.

The “4 per 1000” project is a pledge to reduce the amount of carbon leaked from soils by 0.4% a year, which would be enough to halt the rise of carbon dioxide levels in the air. Nearly 180 countries have signed up to the initiative that was set up by the French government as part of its efforts to make the Paris agreement on climate change, signed last year, a success.

At a ceremony this week to celebrate the initiative, the prince said that the preservation of farmland, forests and soils were of “absolutely critical importance – for, in my experience, the fertility and health of the soil is at the heart of everything”. Drawing on his own work as an organic farmer, he contrasted organic methods with the “previously conventional” farming systems which he called “toxic”.

The 4 per 1000 initiative does not require farmers to adopt organic methods, but does encourage more attention to farming techniques, which are currently contributing to the erosion of soils around the world.


Cop 22 – Briefing by Stephane Le Foll French Minister of Agriculture

Authors: Ruby Bird & Yasmina Beddou 

On October 21, 2016 was held an informal Briefing with some journalists to explain and pursue the French Plan toward MARRAKECH (Morocco) for the COP 22 on 7-18 November 2016. It will be the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties. One of the crucial issues debated was the Launch of the 4 per 1000 initiative by France on Tuesday 1st December 2015 during COP 21. Stéphane Le Foll, French Minister for Agriculture, AgriFood and Forestry; the Australian, German, New Zealand and Uruguayan Ministers for Agriculture; Graziano da Silva, General Secretary of the FAO and M. Mayaki, General Secretary of NEPAD were in attendance.
The 4 per 1000 initiative aims to generate growth in the rate of soil carbon in the form of organic matter of 0.4% per year in the coming decades. This rate of growth would make it possible to compensate for anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. It would concern agricultural soils (growth objective of 1.4 Gt of carbon per year), forests (1.3 Gt per year) and soils affected by salinization or desertification (0.5 to 1.4 Gt per year).
Growth in the organic matter of soils would make it possible to improve the resilience of agriculture and its adaptation to climate change (less sensitivity to erosion, improvement of water retention capacity, etc.), agricultural yield and, in fine, food safety.
Approximately thirty countries signed the initiative, including the majority of European Union countries, Australia, China, Costa Rica, Ethiopa, Indonesia, Mexico, Niger, New Zealand, Turkey and Uruguay. As did ECOWAS, various research centres (including INRA, IRD and CIRAD) and various non-governmental organisations, foundations and agricultural organisations.

Join Regeneration International in Marrakech for COP22

The COP22 Climate Summit will take place in Marrakech, Morocco, on November 7-18, 2016. The Regeneration International Network has organized a series of events that will focus on the role of soil, agriculture and land-use practices in reversing global warming.

Why regenerative farming and land use?

After spending decades focused solely on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, climate activists and the UNFCCC now recognize the need to also include large-scale carbon sequestration in the strategy to reverse global warming.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “a large fraction of anthropogenic climate change resulting from CO2 emissions is irreversible on a multi-century-to-millennial time scale, except in the case of a large net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere over a sustained period.” Simply put, even if we cut all human-induced GHG emissions today, the globe would continue to warm for decades, even centuries to come. Recently the scientific community identified soil carbon restoration using regenerative agriculture and land use practices as one of the safest and most effective means of removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Fortunately, millions of farmers around the globe are ready to implement regenerative agriculture and land use practices. We must act now to unleash the power of regenerative farmers to cool the planet and feed the world through soil carbon restoration.

“If rapid phase down of fossil fuel emissions begins soon, most of the necessary CO2 extraction can take place via improved agricultural land forestry practices, including reforestation and steps to improve soil fertility and increase its carbon content,” – James Hansen

Soils are also the largest terrestrial carbon sink on the planet. But soils around the globe have lost 50 to 75 percent of their original carbon content, largely due to the destructive practices of humans. With support from international bodies and conscious consumers, farmers around the globe can put an end to the release of agricultural GHG emissions, and turn their farms into carbon sinks capable of removing enough CO2 from the atmosphere to reverse global warming and repair the damage inflicted in ecosystems and the environment by degenerative food systems.

Regeneration International at COP22

Here are the side events RI has organized for COP22.

Women for Climate Justice Leading Solutions on the Frontlines of Climate Change
November 16, 2016 16:45 – 18:15
Location: Bering Room, COP22 Blue Zone

Can Consumers Drive the Transition to Climate-friendly Regenerative Beef, Poultry & Dairy Production?
November 17, 2016 15h00  – 16h30
Location: Salle 7, Green Zone at COP22

Re-framing Food and Agriculture: From Degeneration to Regeneration
November 18 13h00 – 14h30
Location: Salle 2, Green Zone at COP22

Follow our COP22 page for events as well as news related to agriculture and the 4 per 1000 Initiative.

– The RI Team

Women for Climate Justice Leading Solutions on the Frontlines of Climate Change

Date: November 16, 2016 16:45 – 18:15
Location: Bering Room, COP22 Blue Zone, Side Event area
Remote participation: If you cannot make it to the event, it will be broadcast by the UNFCCC Climate Change Studio Youtube Channel, be sure to tune in!

We will hear from grassroots and Indigenous women leaders addressing climate solutions from a climate justice framework including forest and biodiversity protection, just transition to 100 percent renewable energy, agro-ecology implementation and rights of nature.


  • Thilmeeza Hussain – Voice of Women Maldives, Climate Wise Women
  • Neema Namadamu – SAFECO; Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Amina El Hajjamc – Tamazight Representative of the High Atlas Foundation
  • Blanca Chancosa – Abya Yala Women Messengers, Otavalo, Ecuador
  • Cecilia Flores – Abya Yala Women Messengers, Aymara, Chile
  • Osprey Orielle Lake – Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network
  • Precious Phiri – Earthwisdom; Regeneration International, Zimbabwe

Accreditation to enter COP 22 venue is required to attend.
No registration is necessary but seating is limited.

Can Consumers Drive the Transition to Climate-friendly Regenerative Beef, Poultry & Dairy Production?

Date: November 17, 2016 15h00  – 16h30
Location: Salle 7, Green Zone at COP22

As the global population grows, consumers will need to reduce their consumption of livestock and dairy products if we are to avoid runaway climate change. But we also must move towards regenerative models for producing adequate amounts of meat, eggs and dairy products that provide optimum nutrition, while also producing fewer emissions and less pollutions, while rebuilding healthy soils capable of drawing down excess carbon.


15.00 – 15.15: Are some animals more equal than others? An overview of the global impacts of animal agriculture, Richard Young, Sustainable Food Trust

15.00 – 16.30 : Panel discussion for identifying potential global consumer campaigns aimed at (1) educating consumers about the impact of factory farm products and regenerative alternatives; (2) promoting and increasing demand for regenerative meat, egg and dairy products; (3) facilitating an increase in global supply of regenerative meat, egg and dairy products. Followed by Q&A.

  • Alexis Baden-Mayer, Organic Consumers Association, USA
  • Andre Leu, IFOAM Organics International, Australia
  • Mercedes Lopez Martinez, Vía Orgánica and Asociación de Consumidores Orgánicos, México
  • Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, Main Street Project, Guatemala/USA

Moderator: Katherine Paul, Regeneration International, USA

This event is free and open to the public.
Please RSVP on Facebook.

Re-framing Food and Agriculture: From Degeneration to Regeneration

Date: November 18 13h00 – 14h30
Location: Salle 2, Green Zone at COP22

Could the solution to the climate crisis as well as poverty and deteriorating public health be right under our feet, and at the end of our knives and forks?

Come join a dynamic and engaging conversation with leading voices in sustainable agriculture and food initiatives from around the globe. Together, we’ll explore how regenerative food, farming and land use can cool the planet and feed the world. This is the beginning of a movement. We encourage you to show up as collaborators ready to learn and share ideas, and leave as a part of the regenerative solution.

You’ll get to hear from and speak with:

  • Andre Leu, IFOAM Organics International, Australia
  • Murielle Trouillet, 4p1000 Initiative, French Ministry of Agriculture, France
  • Abdellah Boudhira, Regenerative Farmer, Morocco
  • Barbara Hachipuka Banda, Natural Agriculture Development Program, Zambia
  • Konrad Meyer, Biovision Foundation, Switzerland
  • John D Liu, Environmental Education Media Project, USA/China

Moderator: Ercilia Sahores, Regeneration International, Argentina

This event is free and open to the public.
Please RSVP on Facebook.

Prince Charles to Launch Global Push to Protect Soil Health Worldwide

Author: Roger Harrabin October 26, 2016

Prince Charles is joining a UK-France government initiative to improve the condition of global soils.

Both governments are meeting the Prince to discuss the need to improve the health of soils worldwide.

Prince Charles has praised the French government’s signature project on soil health, the ‘Four per Thousand Initiative’, which seeks to increase the organic content and health of soils worldwide.

In the coming weeks, ministers from both government’s will debate how to store more carbon in soils.

They will also discuss how to restore degraded soils, improve fertility and increase food security.

The Prince will also speak next month at the world climate conference COP22 Marrakech in Morocco.