United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

The "4 per 1000" Initiative and its implementation


    At the “4 per 1000” Initiative, "Soils for Food Security and Climate", we share the vision of “worldwide healthy and carbon-rich soils to combat climate change and end hunger”, within 2050. The Initiative was introduced, in 2015, at the UNFCCC CoP 21, as part of the Lima-Paris Plan of Action. Since its inception, it has become truly International with, currently, more than 550 members and Partners. The Initiative is a genuine multi-stakeholder-Initiative composed of different colleges: Signatory Countries, International & Regional Organizations, Research & Education, Farmers Organizations, NGOs & Civil Society and lastly, Business & Private sector. Our beneficiaries are farmers [local family farms and farmers organizations] and foresters.


    The “4 per 1000” Mission 2030 consists in providing a supportive framework and action plan to conceptualize, implement, promote and follow up actions, on soil health and soil carbon, through an enhanced collaboration between stakeholders of the «Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU)» sector, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A “4 per 1000” innovative collaborative platform has been developed to facilitate exchanges and capitalization of experiences between Members and Partners. The “4 per 1000” Scientific and Technical Committee has worked on 4 priorities of research, aiming to estimate the Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) potential, to develop management practices, to define the enabling environment and aiming to establish MRV. An exhaustive set of 13 Reference Criterion & Indicators for SOC project assessment, linked to UN SDGs is a result of it.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    The ambition of the « 4 per 1000 » Initiative is to encourage land users to move towards a diversified, highly resilient agriculture and forestry based on appropriate management of natural resources, in particular land, soils and water, strengthening farming activities. It invites all its stakeholders to implement science-based practical actions to maintain and manage soils to be healthy and living. One objective (A1) is to ensure that the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of all UNFCCC country Parties contain references to soil health and SOC and that they are accounted in their sustainable agriculture development programs. A 2nd (A6) is to develop a scientific reference framework including socio-economic aspects (research programs, international scientific cooperation and STC) that shows the potential of soil health contributing to carbon sequestration resulting in a positive carbon balance in AFOLU systems.

    Implementation methodologies

    The “4 per 1000” Initiative has finalized its Strategic Plan [2030-2050] in 2020 with its formal adoption in June. The plan contains 24 strategic objectives (A1 to F3). Since that key milestone, an important concertation work of consultation has been made on the new user-friendly and easy-to-use “4 per 1000” collaborative platform, through hundreds of strategic exchanges between stakeholders of the Initiative. This consultation has led to the constitution of working groups by objective (Task Forces), which will result, this year, into an Implementation Plan of actions and activities, at the International level of the Initiative. Important objectives have been defined like: (A2) Foster the emergence of innovative projects centered on soil health and in line with «4 per 1000» ambition, and with the help of the set of indicators and criteria for formative project assessment elaborated by the STC. / (B1) Encourage the development and implementation of national and/or supranational strategies (including incentive and regulatory mechanisms) and responsible investment plans for soil health derived from the NDCs’ targets. / (B2) Facilitate access to information and capacity development for land managers, in particular women, on how to improve soil health and increase SOC content for all agro-pedo-climatic regions. / (B3) Develop and implement science-based regional helpdesks for: (a) The planning of local actions on good AFOLU management practices (b) The establishment and use of compensation schemes for carbon sequestration (c) Provision of ecosystem services at appropriate levels (principle of subsidiarity). / (B4) Develop a user-friendly online toolkit (including verified assessment and monitoring tools) on soil health and soil organic carbon. The list of objectives can be viewed on the Strategic Plan’s page: en_strategic_plan.pdf (4p1000.org)


    In every geography, the observation of a continuous, almost underhanded degradation of our natural, social, and economic environment is now obvious. The development model needs to be changed, moving from sustainable development towards regenerative development. Regeneration is the key word for the years to come; it means improving water, biodiversity, air and above all, soils, the origin of life on earth for plants, animals, and humans. Our century will have to be regenerative or it will not be! The actions within the "4 per 1000" Initiative consist in working on the regeneration of soils to improve their health, thanks, in particular, to the carbon captured in the atmosphere by plants, and returned to the soil in the form of organic plant matter or animal origin. One of the aims of the “4 per 1000” is to provide a «4 per 1000» dashboard delivering near real time quantitative information on progress of the Initiative, taking partners and members, and their actions, into account (F3).

    Factors and Constraints

    The “4 per 1000” Initiative seeks to facilitate the interaction of its multiple stakeholders by allowing them to interact on specific subjects defined under the 24 objectives of the Strategic Plan, with the help of its innovative collaborative platform. The role of the Initiative is to guide and support advanced discussions on specific strategic subjects related to soil health for the sake of the beneficiaries. Projects, that will emerge from these key discussions, will be implemented internationally on the ground in any geographies; the Initiative will need a regional support for its strategy to be adopted on the ground.

    Sustainability and replicability

    The vision 2050 of the “4 per 1000” Initiative is “worldwide healthy and carbon-rich soils to combat climate change and end hunger”, which means that, according to different agro-pedo-climatic regions, the above aim of the Initiative is to reach and implement that vision in every geography of the world, for every type of beneficiaries. The Initiative does a lot of advocacy to convince policy makers, the general public, scientists, institutions, private sector companies to move towards this vision, step by step, year after year, keeping always in mind that farmers and foresters are at the epicenter of the action of the Initiative. Women and young people in general are the main targets and need a lot of support. “4 per 1000” is definitely sustainable and replicable for the years to come, in order to reach the United Nations Sustainable Developments Goals and create an effective response to the 2030 agenda.

    COVID-19 Impact

    The year 2020, and now 2021, have been disrupted by the CoVid19 pandemic, which has disrupted the lives of the entire planet, and has brought back to the forefront the notion of food sovereignty, but above all the importance of food resilience in our societies. This pandemic has also highlighted the impact of deforestation, biodiversity erosion, land, and soil degradation due to inappropriate agricultural practices, on the emergence of viruses harmful to humanity. Soil health, particularly through the organic carbon content of soils, is precisely at the heart of the “4 per 1000” Initiative, “Soils for Food Security and Climate”. Promoting carbon sequestration in soils, through the natural phenomenon of photosynthesis via agriculture and forestry fulfils three functions in line with the UN's sustainable development goals, namely, improving food security, helping agriculture and forestry adapt to climate change and contributing to climate change mitigation.

    Contact Name
    The 4 per 1000 Initiative
    Geographical coverage

    Global coverage

    01 December 2015 (start date)
    31 January 2030 (date of completion)
    More information
    Contact Information

    BEATRICE, The "4 per 1000" Initiative