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Implementation of the recommendations from the Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon | GSOC17

The Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon (GSOC17) was held at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, on 21–23 March 2017 and attended by 488 participants from 111 countries, including representatives of FAO member states, organizing institutions, the private sector and civil society, as well as scientists and practitioners working on soil organic carbon (SOC) and related fields.

The recommendations presented in the outcome document are aimed at supporting the development of policies and actions to encourage the implementation of soil and land management strategies that foster the protection, sequestration, measurement, mapping, monitoring and reporting of SOC. The recommendations are structured around three main themes focusing on the assessment of SOC, the maintenance and increase of SOC stocks, and SOC management in specific types of soil. 

Recommendation 1: Organize capacity development and training for countries to develop national reference values for SOC stocks, as well as the necessary data management capacities and facilities.

Recommendation 2: Establish a working group to develop feasible and regionally contextualized guidelines for measuring, mapping, monitoring and reporting on SOC that can be adapted locally to monitor SOC stocks and stock changes to support management decisions.

Recommendation 3: In estimates of the potential for SOC sequestration, include the full GHG balance and consider possible interactions between the carbon and nitrogen cycles that could affect the climate change mitigation potential of applied practices.

Recommendation 4: The design of implementation strategies and appropriate soil and land management practices for SOC protection and sequestration should consider land use and the local environmental, socio-economic, cultural and institutional contexts, and potential barriers to adoption.

Recommendation 5: Identify and specify the tangible short-term and long-term benefits for farmers of management practices for SOC sequestration to trigger their adoption, and introduce mechanisms to incentivize the adoption of such practices.

Recommendation 6: Prevent SOC losses by maintaining current SOC stocks (especially in carbon-rich soils) as the minimum action on SOC management.

Recommendation 7: Prioritize soils with the highest carbon stocks in the development of national and regional policies on soil conservation to prevent SOC losses.

Recommendation 8: Support land-users sufficiently to implement and sustain appropriate soil and land management practices to protect and enhance SOC under local conditions for long-term benefit.