"4 per 1000" initiative: the scientific community launches an appeal from Sète

The scientists gathered in Sète on 7th and 8th November 2018 for the workshop "French research about the international research programme of the 4 per 1000 initiative: soiles for food security and climate" launched an appeal for an "ambitious scientific programme" for the implementation of the research component of the initiative.

Jean-Luc Chotte, co-president of the Scientific Committee of the workshop "French research around the international research programme of the 4 per 1000 initiative: soils for food security and climate", recalled the strong mobilization of the French scientific community since COP21. "We contribute to the necessary dialogue between all the stakeholders of sustainable development: scientists, NGOs, professional organizations, decision-makers. However, after three years, it is time for research to have financial resources adapted to the challenges and climate emergency. It is time for French research laboratories to produce new scientific evidence complementary to that which underlies the "4 per 1000", in order to inform future policy decisions. It is time for these evidence to inform the debate and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). What we call the research component of the initiative must become a national and international research program."

The Sète Appeal has already collected some 50 signatures, including researchers from CIRAD, CNRS, IDDRI, INRA, IRD, IRSTEA, but also their partners from Brazil, Spain, Madagascar, Senegal and Morocco.

Appeal of Sète

An ambitious scientific programme for the implementation of the research component of the "4P1000: Soil for Food Security and Climate" initiative

The international initiative "4 per 1000: Soil for Food Security and Climate" was launched by the French government on 1st December 2015 at COP 21 in Paris. As both an action plan and a programme of research and scientific cooperation, it has led the international community to embark on the path of demonstrating that the "Agriculture-Forestry-Other Land Use" sector plays an essential role in enhancing food security, mitigating and adapting to climate change. Increasing the amount of carbon stored sustainably in soils through photosynthesis of plant biomass (transformation of atmospheric CO2 into organic carbon) could help to reduce atmospheric CO2 and consequently the increase of the global surface temperature. According to the Paris Agreement, this should not exceed 2°C. However, the greenhouse gas emission reductions agreed by the signatory States to the Agreement do not achieve this aim. If, as a priority, an immediate reduction in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors is to be promoted, this must be accompanied by carbon storage in the soil. This will simultaneously improve soil quality, agricultural production and the adaptation of agricultural systems to climate change.

We, scientists and practitioners gathered in Sète on 7th and 8th November 2018, affirm that the preservation and sustainable increase of the carbon stock in soils is a scientifically based and technically feasible objective. We also affirm that, in view of the urgent need for action on climate, biodiversity and land degradation, the "4 per 1000" initiative must now be supported for its implementation. However, we do not have all the keys to act today. To find them and to promote the integration of soil carbon sequestration into all strategies in support of the Paris Agreement, which also aims to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, research is needed.

To inform and support action, a theoretical, experimental and participatory research effort is necessary. We recall that intervening on the dynamics of carbon in soils means intervening on complex and diversified systems. This requires taking into consideration the local knowledge of field actors, but also the mobilization of a wide range of scientific expertise (pedology, agronomy, ecology, anthropology, economics, geography, sociology, law and political science, climatology) in an interdisciplinary approach that combines the knowledge of scientists with that of field actors.

Three years after the launch of the "4 per 1000" initiative, the mobilization of scientists from all French research institutions must be able to rely on a substantial research effort, commensurate with the challenges and their urgency.

Scientists and field workers meeting in Sète on 7th and 8th November 2018 declare that the challenges of the "4 per 1000" initiative require immediate funding by France of an ambitious scientific programme.

They shall make themselves available to the competent authorities to design the objectives and implementation procedures.


This article has been published by the IRD and translated in English by


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