Solutions event

RISE: A conversation on the future of European soil

Date: Thursday, March 11, 2021    Time: 10:30 - 12:00 CET

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Europe’s most precious resource: How can we kick start the transition in soil management?

This webinar will take the format of a conversation; bringing together experts who are already working on shifting how we manage our soils in Europe for the better.  The webinar will move away from the traditional format of presentations, and engage the speakers in a discussion to converge their ideas and experiences of how this transition will come about.

Soil is at the very heart of so many of the challenges we face today, and so many of the solutions.  It has a crucial role to play in climate mitigation, climate resilience, future food security, water and nutrient management, and biodiversity, to name but a few.  This is not news, the importance of addressing the deterioration of our soils has long been understood, and has been targeted in a range of policy initiatives.  However, the state of EU soils continues to worsen.  And whilst there are still large gaps in our understanding of certain aspects of soil, a well established body of evidence is showing how farm practises can be adapted to turn around soil health and reduce soil loss.

This workshop will kick off the RISE project on soil, which will run over the next 18 months.  It will take an active, practical approach to discussing how we can take what we know on soil management and incentivising a change in farming practices, to provoke a new and positive phase in farming, and a collective food chain responsibility, so that in 10 years time, we will be having a very different conversation on soil.

Confirmed speakers (in alphabetical order)

Emeritus Prof Allan Buckwell
RISE Foundation, Research Director
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Claire Chenu
Research Director, INRAE
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Mellany Klompe
Director of the Soil Heroes Foundation
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Janez Potočnik
Chair FFA2021 and Chairman RISE Foundation
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Kerstin Rosenow
Head of Unit ‘Research & Innovation’, DG AGRI, European Commission
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Emeritus Prof Allan Buckwell, RISE Foundation, Research Director

Emeritus Professor Allan Buckwell has been Director of RISE’s reports  on crop protection, livestock, the Common Agricultural Policy, nutrient recovery and reuse and sustainable intensification. Two thirds of his career has been as an academic agricultural economist specialising in agricultural and rural policy. This has involved his work as a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for European Environmental Policy (since 2012), fourteen years at Newcastle University and then from 1984-1999 as Professor of Agricultural Economics, Wye College University of London (which was merged into Imperial College). During this period he specialised on teaching and research into all aspects of European rural policy dealing especially with the Common Agricultural Policy, trade issues, and technology and structural change in farming and its impacts.

During 1995/6 he was seconded to the analysis and conception unit of DG Agri in the European Commission where he chaired a policy integration group who laid out a model for the evolution of the CAP. He joined the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) as Policy Director in 2000.

Since then he has been involved in debates on how to balance the CAP as a policy for Food and Environmental Security. He chaired and authored a report on Public Goods from Private Land and worked a good deal on Climate Change, the threats and opportunities this poses to rural land managers and Green House Gas accounting from land-based businesses. His key specialist subjects are CAP, agriculture and environmental land management.
Claire Chenu, Research Director, INRAE

Claire Chenu is research director at INRAE (French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment) and consulting professor of soil science at AgroParisTech.

She is a member of the research unit ECOSYS at Grignon in Paris area. Her research deals with soil organic matter, which has a prominent role in ecosystem services provided by soils. She addresses the roles of soil organic matter in soil physical properties and investigates carbon dynamics and sequestration in agricultural soils. She was the 2019 Soil Science medallist of the European Geosciences Union and the recipient of the 2019 INRA Research Lifetime Achievement Award.

She is very involved in the science-policy-practice interface and in awareness raising activities on soils. She has been nominated Special Ambassador for 2015 the international year of soils by the FAO. She is member of several international committees, including being a member of the Scientific and Technical Committee of the 4 per 1000 initiative. She coordinates the EU H2020 European Joint Programme SOIL that associates 24 European countries: “Towards climate-smart sustainable management of agricultural soils”.
Mellany Klompe, Director of the Soil Heroes Foundation

Mellany has been transforming the Klompe family farm, 360 hectares of arable land in The Netherlands, to become regenerative in its practices for the last 15 years.  Mellany is also on the board of the Collective Cooperative for the Hoeksche Waard (, a region in south Holland. There she has been instrumental in creating more than 800km of field margins and biodiversity lanes on the island to promote natural pest control, pollination and biodiversity. Through this initiative, the Hoeksche Waard is now the EU-example on this topic, and is a part of the EU-project FABulous farmers (

Mellany is also expert in raising subsidies, measuring soil quality and is currently the Director of the Soil Heroes Foundation ( Previously, Mellany worked for the Dutch Waterboards and local government.

Mellany is a strong believer that nature provides the solutions to the world’s biggest problems and has dedicated her life to a more prosperous and healthy planet for future generations.
Janez Potočnik, Chair FFA2021 and Chairman RISE Foundation

Dr. Janez Potočnik is the Chairman of the Board of the RISE Foundation. He graduated from the Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia (Ph.D. degree 1993). After a successful career starting in 1989 in Slovenia as a researcher at the Institute of Economic Research and then Director of the Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (1994), he was appointed Head of Negotiating Team for Accession of Slovenia to the EU (1998). He was also Director of Government Office for European Affairs (2000), Minister Councillor at the Office of the Prime Minister (2001) and Minister responsible for European Affairs (2002). In 2004 he joined the European Commission, first as ‘shadow’ Commissioner for Enlargement and then as Commissioner responsible for Science and Research. In 2010 Dr Potočnik became Commissioner for Environment. His term ended in November 2014 and he was then appointed for a three-year term as a member and Co-Chair of International resource Panel hosted by United Nations Environment Programme. In the same month he was also appointed as a Chairman of The Forum for the Future of Agriculture and RISE Foundation and a Member of the European Policy Centre’s Advisory Council.
Kerstin Rosenow, Head of Unit ‘Research & Innovation’, DG AGRI, European Commission

Kerstin Rosenow is Head of Unit ‘Research & Innovation’ in DG AGRI, European Commission where she is responsible for agricultural research under EU research programmes and the European Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRI). Her unit provides the secretariat for the mission board Soil Health and Food. Previously, she was Head of Unit in the EC Research Executive Agency (REA)  where she managed the implementation of the project portfolio for Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2 (food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine, maritime, and inland water research and the bioeconomy). She has been working in the EC for over 17 years after covering a managerial position in the German administration (Representation of the State of Hessen to the EU). For DG AGRI she coordinated negotiations with pre-accession and candidate countries and the preparation of the 2014-2020 CAP legislative framework. She studied law, politics and administration in Marburg, Grenoble and Bruges.

Harry Smit
Senior Analyst, Farm Inputs and Farming at RaboResearch food and Agribusiness, Rabobank
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Harry Smit, Senior Analyst, Farm Inputs and Farming at RaboResearch food and Agribusiness, Rabobank

Before joining RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness in 2006, Harry was a Credit Analyst for Rabobank’s Food & Agri Corporates department. He also worked as a Researcher in the bank’s Economics Research division.

Prior to Rabobank, Harry worked for six years in the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture where he worked primarily for the the Department for International Affairs and was involved in several aspects of the Common Agricultural Policy.  He studied at Wageningen University, where he obtained a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics.


Thursday, March 11, 2021 - 10:30 - 12:00 CET

  • Opening address – Janez Potočnik

  • Introduction to the subject – Allan Buckwell

  • A conversation with the speakers, moderated by Allan Buckwell

  • Q&A

  • Summary – Allan Buckwell

  • Closing address – Janez Potočnik