The Impact of the First Round of National Engagement Events for EU Soil Mission
As we celebrate EU Soil Day, we are excited to share the outcomes of the first round of National Engagement Events (NEE) hosted across 42 EU Member States and Associated Countries as part of the NATI00NS project. These events have played a crucial role in raising awareness of the EU Soil Mission, attracting more than 2400 participants and paving the way for the second round of events scheduled for 2024.
Events across Europe and beyond
The first round of National Engagement Events, conducted between March and June 2023, exceeded expectations in terms of participation and impact. These events are integral to NATI00NS' support for the EU Soil Mission's ambitious goals of establishing one hundred soil health Living Labs (LLs) and Lighthouses (LHs) across Europe by 2030. The feedback collected during NEE has been instrumental in shaping subsequent project tasks and initiatives.
Organizing over 40 national engagement events in a short period required alignment between national organizers and the NATI00NS project. This harmonization was essential to ensure that the events complied with NATI00NS' standards in terms of content, visual identity, and visibility.
The events structure has been designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the EU Soil Mission and the roles of LLs and LHs:
- A session dedicated to presenting the EU Mission "A Soil Deal for Europe," providing an overview tailored to the national context.
- A session on soil health Living Laboratories and Lighthouses, highlighting their differences and real-life examples, including guidance on Open Call applications.
- Engagement sessions aimed at encouraging participant interaction through Q&A sessions, breakouts, and digital tools like sli.do and Mural.
Main takeaways and figures
The success of the national engagement events was assessed through various indicators. Attendance rates, participant feedback, stakeholder engagement, and objective achievement were evaluated systematically. These evaluations helped identify strengths and areas for improvement and informed decisions for future events.
Feedback surveys were conducted to gather participant input, and while the response rate was relatively low, it provided valuable insights.
These surveys were translated in the national languages and distributed after the conclusion of the events, encouraging participants to provide evaluations on the first round and ideas for the second round.
Participants highly appreciated the events' content (4.4 out of 5 on average), organisation (4.3 out of 5), and engagement aspects (4.1 out of 5). The lessons learned from this feedback include the need for shorter and more accessible surveys.
Several common themes emerged from the feedback:
- More information on existing soil health Living Labs (LLs).
- Guidance on establishing LLs.
- More time dedicated to discussion and questions.
- Additional information on Lighthouses.
- A desire for practical, actionable information.
Ready for the Second Round of the National Engagement Events
These insights have guided subsequent NATI00NS activities, such as the launch of the Matchmaking platform, the Helpdesk section, thematic factsheets, and successful webinars on Living Labs and Open Calls.
To enhance the second round of events, the following recommendations have been made based on the feedback and lessons learned:
- Shorter and more accessible feedback surveys to encourage greater participation.
- Enhanced practical information on soil health Living Labs.
- Increased interaction and discussion opportunities.
- Inclusion and representation of diverse stakeholders and soil types.
- Continuous engagement and feedback collection.
The first round of National Engagement Events for the EU Soil Mission has been a resounding success, with valuable lessons learned and feedback collected to improve the second round. These events are pivotal in supporting the EU Soil Mission to preserve and revitalise soil resources for present and future generations. The journey continues, with the knowledge and insights gained in the first round serving as the foundation for even more impactful events in the future. As we move forward, we are excited to see how these events will shape the future of soil health in Europe.
The main objective of NATI00NS is to facilitate the deployment of the EU Soil Mission across EU Member States and Associated Countries during most of its first ‘induction and pilot’ phase. NATI00NS acts as a messenger of the Mission, raising awareness among national and regional stakeholders, providing access to quality-checked capacity-building materials and information, spurring the discussions on the best Living Lab setups to address regional soil needs, and fostering early matchmaking for cross-regional LL clusters.