Policymakers and investors have perceived securing soil organic carbon as too difficult, with uncertain returns. But new technical, policy and financial opportunities offer hope for rapid progress.

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Funding was provided by The Nature Conservancy, the Craig and Susan McCaw Foundation, and Cornell University’s David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (2016-TNC-Ryan-mrr232). We thank all participants in the dialogue for co-generating the agenda for action, and our reviewers for improving the manuscript.

Author information


  1. WWF International, Gland, Switzerland

    • Sonja Vermeulen
  2. Hoffmann Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy, London, UK

    • Sonja Vermeulen
  3. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA, USA

    • Deborah Bossio
  4. Soil and Crop Sciences, School of Integrative Plant Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA

    • Johannes Lehmann
  5. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA

    • Johannes Lehmann
  6. Institute for Advanced Studies, Technical University Munich, Munich, Germany

    • Johannes Lehmann
  7. 4 per 1000 Initiative, c/o CGIAR System Organization, Montpellier, France

    • Paul Luu
  8. Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA

    • Keith Paustian
  9. The Nature Conservancy, London, UK

    • Christopher Webb
  10. Danone, Paris, France

    • Flore Augé
  11. Die Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ Office Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia

    • Imelda Bacudo
  12. The World Bank, Washington, DC, USA

    • Tobias Baedeker
  13. Clarmondial AG, Männedorf, Switzerland

    • Tanja Havemann
  14. National Farmers’ Union, Stoneleigh, UK

    • Ceris Jones
  15. Chatham House, London, UK

    • Richard King
  16. World Business Council on Sustainable Development, Geneva, Switzerland

    • Matthew Reddy
  17. Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions, Centurion, South Africa

    • Ishmael Sunga
  18. Silvestrum Climate Associates, San Francisco, CA, USA

    • Moritz Von Unger
  19. Corporate Carbon, Glebe, Australia

    • Matthew Warnken


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sonja Vermeulen.

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