The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide an excellent channel to demonstrate the significance of soils when considering e.g., food production, water availability, climate mitigation and biodiversity preservation. For environmental sciences, including soil science, the SDGs provide “a point at the horizon” for future research. Progress to achieve the SDGs by 2030 will bureaucratically be monitored by targets and indicators but questions as to how effective research should be organized remain unanswered so far. The soil security concept, based on the five Cs (capability, condition, capital, connectivity and codification) can provide a clear guideline for soil science research, defining soil functions contributing to interdisciplinary ecosystem services that, in turn, can define measures to reach SDGs. A “storyline” is proposed linking the five Cs, emphasizing connectivity that becomes increasingly important in our modern “fact-free” world. The traditional linear research model does not apply when characterizing SDGs because of many conflicting interests that don’t allow definition of specific “solutions”. But different action-perspectives can be defined as a basis for decision making, creating much needed transparency in the decision process. Soil contributions are most effective when framed in the context of soil-water-atmosphere-plant models. Proper codification, including clear and candid communication with stakeholders, is essential to link science with society, a link that needs improvement.
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