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Water Today Title May 30, 2024

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Update 2019/4/9


Soil regeneration is the least known, most promising solution to climate change. The second Living Soils Symposium was held March 28-30, in Montréal. It aims to raise awareness among citizens of the importance of soil regeneration and about ways they can contribute, by creating a network between stakeholders across all sectors relating to soils.

Our reporter, Cori Marshall attended the symposium in Montreal.

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Video interviews


By Cori Marshall

The second Living Soils Symposium organized by Regeneration Canada took place in Montréal March 28-31. The bilingual event brought together a wide range of stakeholders to discuss the way each of us can contribute to "regenerating soil health." Regenerative agricultural practices have very real impacts on our daily lives, the discussion around regenerative practices is one we should be aware of.

Over the course of the Living Soils Symposium, WaterToday had the chance to speak with the Founder and Executive Director of Regeneration Canada Gabrielle Bastien. She explained that Regeneration Canada promotes "regenerating soil health as a solution to climate change."

"We acknowledge that soils are very ubiquitous in our society, virtually everything we do relates to soil one way or another."

Gabrielle Bastien Founder and Executive Director, Regeneration Canada

"Our society comprises a very complex human ecosystem," Bastien said, "everybody has a role to play." She underlined that "consumer demand plays a very important role in what businesses might want to offer, and also what farmer might want to produce." Public policy also plays a significant part in this cycle.

Regeneration Canada sees their "role as the convenors of this human ecosystem," to provide information regarding "soils as a solution to climate change, and how people can contribute to regenerating soil health."

The Living Soils Symposium brought together stakeholders from many different sectors such as agriculture, research and business. WaterToday asked Bastien about what it took to bring together such a wide range of participants.

Being that this year's symposium was the second of its kind Bastien said "relationship building was really important," as well as "being able to bring these people together and engage them was crucial." As a non-profit organization, Regeneration Canada saw fundraising for the event as a challenge.

The message that Regeneration Canada wants participants to take away revolves around "the way our society is currently wired, our current system is degenerative, the way we manage our lands they are degrading at this stage," Bastien said. She continued "what we need to do is not promote sustainability, we can't just sustain this otherwise we will never be able to pull excess atmospheric carbon down into the ground, we won't be able to better our lands and environment."

Emphasizing that soil regeneration "is really important, that's really the way we will restore ecosystems, restore biodiversity, water holding capacity and mitigate climate change," Bastien said is one key message.

"We really hope that each individual at the symposium walks away with better clarity about their own role, their own contribution to the [regenerative] movement."

Gabrielle Bastien Founder and Executive Director, Regeneration Canada

Bastien explained that participants should take away the knowledge that "soils are alive, soils are an ecosystem themselves and what we need to do is enable the conditions in which the soil microorganisms thrive, that's the basis of regenerative agriculture, and to do that we need to engage the breadth of the human ecosystem."

Once individuals have realized the importance of regenerative approaches, and their role within them, we asked what are factors that would continue this trend. Bastien explained that "businesses play a really important role, we need leadership in corporations to start initiating the shift." She added, "businesses sell or source products that come from the soil. If large corporations lead the way in enabling the supply chain and making sure that their producers integrate more regenerative practices, it could play a massive role in driving soil regeneration."

"Everything works hand in hand, businesses need to sense that there is a demand from consumers, that there is a desire from the population for this shift," Bastien said.

The Executive Director acknowledges that Regeneration Canada is not alone in promoting these practices and that there are other organizations involved in the work revolving around "raising awareness". This work, in and of itself, "represents a major shift too," Bastien said.

The regenerative movement is in its early phases, and more public awareness will drive consumer demand which will in turn change practices and drive public policy. Bastien said that Regeneration Canada has its base in Qu├ębec and Ontario but is hopeful that "there could be hubs across the country leading the way," and that individuals "will have greater clarity on how they can contribute."


David Johnson molecular biologist, New Mexico State University

Microbiology, microbes and the importance of soil health and regeneration.

Christophe Jospe, Co-founder of Nori

Nori is the world's only carbon dioxide removal marketplace.

Becky Porlier - Executive Director of Upper Canada Fibreshed

Our goal is to build a regional fibre system centered around local fibres, local dyes, and local labour.



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