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European Soil Partnership consultation workshop

The GSP works through Regional Soil Partnerships which are developed among interested stakeholders in the regions and if required, with sub-regional grouping with common interests.

These RSPs work in close coordination with FAO Regional Offices and are supported by the GSP Secretariat. The RSPs are expected to establish an interactive consultative process with national soil entities and relevant regional institutions for the implementation of the 5 pillars of action of the GSP at regional level.

On 31 October 2013, taking the opportunity of the second Global Soil Week, the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) secretariat convened a workshop to discuss about the establishment of the European Soil Partnership. The “Berlin communiqué” was prepared by the participating GSP partners and agreed to establish the European Soil Partnership (ESP), whose Secretariat is hosted by the European Commission DG JRC (as the ITPS) and is based in Ispra, Italy. Also, the establishment of a Sub-regional Soil Partnership within the European Soil Partnership with a Secretariat based in Moscow, Russian Federation, was endorsed. An ad-hoc steering committee was set up in order to support the different activities that will be implemented by this regional soil partnership.

The following GSP members compose the Steering Committee of the ESP:

  • Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Germany (Chair)
  • European Commission (Secretariat)
  • Soil Science and Conservation Research Institute, Slovakia
  • Eurasian Centre for Food Security (ECFS), Russian Federation
  • European Soil Bureau Network (ESBN

The ESP Steering Committee has been actively engaged in developing European regional implementation plans for the five pillars of action of the GSP. It should be considered as the main priority.

The following ESP Steering Committee members took over the leadership for the various implementation plans:

1. Sustainable Soil Management in Europe: J. Sobocka (Slovakia)
2. Awareness raising, including Regional activities in the context of the International Year of Soils 2015: A. Jones (European Commission)
3. Promoting targeted soil research: J. Weigelt (Germany)
4. Soil Data and Information: A. Lilly (ESBN)
5. Harmonization of methods and measurements: P. Krasilnikov (Russian Federation)

Preliminary outlines and ideas were discussed during the first meeting of the ESP plenary in 2014, which was held in Ispra (Italy) on 21-22 May. The participants of the 1st Plenary were the partners of the ESP and European soil scientists or public organisations involved in soil protection (see http://www.fao.org/global-soil-partnership/regional-partnerships/europe/en/). During the second meeting of the Global Soil Partnership Plenary Assembly held on 22-24 July 2014, FAO members supported the initiative to nominate focal points to the GSP to take full advantages of expected benefits of enhanced communication. The GSP Secretary sent an official request to FAO Members via the formal channel of communication with the Permanent Representations to FAO. All Focal Points from the European region who were already nominated have been invited to the ESP 2nd workshop.

At the workshop a more detailed report on the development of these implementation plans was presented and further discussed with the ESP members.

Given the limited resources available, it was proposed to focus the activities of the ESP on completing three main deliverables:

a. The economics of ecosystem services provided by soil (linked to MAES Soil). Lead: European Commission
b. Soils in the post-2015 development agenda (SDGs related to soil and land). Lead: IASS
c. Status report of European soil resources as part of the Status of World Soil Resources Report of the ITPS. Lead: Russian Federation

Given the specificities of the eastern European and Eurasian GSP members, a sub-regional soil partnership within the ESP was created covering the Eurasian sub-Region and chaired by the Russian Federation. A specific implementation plan for the GSP priorities has been developed at sub-regional level for Eurasia, focusing on the major threat of soil salinization. 3

The ESP workshop fully reviewed the above outlined activities and endorsed the identified priorities and actions.

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17 Mar 2015
- 18 Mar 2015
FAO hq, Rome - Italy