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International Cooperation > Sino-EU Panel on Land and Soil


With experiencing the growing importance of interdependences between land resources and socio-economic systems in Europe and China, information exchange on this issue has been constantly growing between the parties in the last years. The need for coordinated joint efforts facilitated by a formal and permanent platform on the field became evident for both Chinese and European decision makers.

The initiative of Mr. Janez Potocnik commissioner of the European Union and Mr. Zhongli Ding, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to tighten the links on this priority field led to the establishment of the Sino-EU Panel on Land and Soil (SEPLS).

The SEPLS has been established on 29-30 June, 2010, in Ispra, Italy with the participation of leading soil scientist and land system researchers representing the main geographical regions of China and the EU and covering a wide range of disciplines within the land resources domain. With the establishment of the Sino-EU Panel on Land and Soil the parties will be in a position to exchange information on a formalized and well structured manner and harmonize their information-base for responses to the threats arising from the natural and socio-economic pressure on soil and land resources.


The Sino-EU Panel on Land and Soil (SEPLS) is a scientific body with a goal to provide decision makers in Europe and China with a clear scientific view on the current state of land and soil resources and potential environmental and socio-economic consequences of their future utilization patterns.


1. Evaluate and Report Scientific results for policy support
2. Propose Priority issues for research projects
3. Policy Evaluation adn Advice
4. Awareness Raising(Public, Across sectors)


1. Prepare summary documents on key issues
2. Promote exchange of expertise between China and the EU in order to have a common understanding of land issues


Optimization of land use on local, regional and national levels encompass complex decisions on socio-economic and ecological priorities. However, social and economic interests and the interest of ecological systems often conflict. This trilemma in land use policy (figure 1.) can only be resolved by the integration of local characteristics to the decision-making process on the different levels of policy hierarchies.

Trilema policy

Figure 1. Trilemma in land use policy (Li, 2010)

The SEPLS identified crosscutting topics in the domain of the ‘land use trilemma’ which needs to be addressed in priority. Activities of the SEPLS will focus in these priority topics:





The Driving forces - Pressures - State - Impact - Responses (DPSIR) framework can be used to explore the relations between human activities and the environment (see figure 2). The DPSIR is a slightly extended version of the well-known OECD-model and is used by EEA (2001) and other organisations to make assessments on and characterise the main environmental issues, such as climate change, acidification, soil degradation and wastes.


Figure 2. The DPSIR framework for reporting on environmental issues

The applicability of DPSIR framework for soil resources is introduced by Van Camp et al. (2004.) According to the systems analysis view of DPSIR framework, social and economic developments exert pressure on the environment and, as a consequence, the state of the environment changes. This leads to impacts on e.g. human health, ecosystems and materials that may elicit a societal response that feeds back on the driving forces, on the pressures or on the state or impacts directly, through adaptation or curative action.

From a policy point of view, there is a need for clear and specific information on all DPSIR elements. The DPSIR can be used for example, to identify sets of indicator to communicate the most relevant features of the environment and other issues included in the assessments and policy analyses. In order to meet this need, environmental indicators and policy analyses should reflect all elements of the chain between human activities, their environmental impacts, and the societal responses to these impacts.



Description of the Structure:

Name Organisation Role
Luca Montanarella, Gergely Tóth Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Joint Research Centre, European Commission Coordinator in Europe
Jaume Fons Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (European Topic Centre Land Use and Spatial Information) Mediterranean node
Stephen Nortcliff University of Reading West-European node
Tamás Kismányoky University of Pannonia East-European node
Mariam Akhtar-Schuster University of Hamburg (DesertNet International) Cooperation with DesertNet International
Winfried Blum BOKU, Vienna Integration of European soil science community

Name Organisation Role
LI Xiubin Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences Coordinator in China
ZHANG Ganlin Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences Central-eastern node
WU Zhifeng, WEI Jianbing Guangdong Institute of Eco-environment and Soil Sciences South-eastern node
YANG Qingyuan Southwest University South-western node
LIU Guobin Institute of Soil and Water Conservation, Chinese Academy of Sciences Northwest Node
KONG Xiangbin China Agricultural University Northern node

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European Commission - Joint Research Centre
Institute for Environment and Sustainability
Marc Van Liedekerke(tel. +39-0332-785179)
Panos Panagos (tel. +39-0332-785574)