The ‘4 per 1,000’ initiative was launched by the French government at the COP21 Paris climate summit in 2015. It aims to boost carbon storage in agricultural soils by 0.4% each year to help mitigate climate change and increase food security (www.4p1000.org). Despite the global importance of these societal imperatives, soil-carbon sequestration is still not on the political agenda, and was not formally discussed at the Bonn COP23 meeting in Germany in November 2017.
Crucially, the 4 per 1,000 initiative will help governments to implement sustainable intensification of food production (A. Chabbi et al. Nature Clim. Change 7, 307–309; 2017). Increased organic-carbon sequestration in soil underpins several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and directly contributes to SDG2 ‘Zero hunger’, SDG13 ‘Climate action’ and SDG15 ‘Life on land’ (see go.nature.com/2kwtxsy).
To realize the promise of such an initiative, different sectors of society will need to stimulate and coordinate better communication between scientists, businesses, public and private enterprises, policymakers and the public. Soils must be recognized as natural capital that can contribute significantly to national economies and human welfare.
Nature 553, 27 (2018)