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Join the working group! Open Call for the preparation of a technical manual on Soil Organic Carbon management at the regional and sub-regional scale

To join the working group please send an email to Rosa.CuevasCorona@fao.org by 15 October 2017

This call is open to all those interested to contribute including land users, farmers, agricultural extension services agents, government representatives, scientists and researchers, NGO members, decision makers at different levels, members of existing initiatives, among further relevant 


The GSP gladly invites you to join the working group (WG) on Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) management at the regional and sub-regional scale. This open call for the establishment of a WG to produce a technical manual on SOC management represents a response to the urgent need to identify, compile and highlight management practices and land use systems that promote the preservation and/or enhancement of SOC stocks taking into account the regional and sub-regional specificities using existing knowledge, adapted according to site characteristics and land user needs, considering cost-benefit analyses and social impacts.


The growing awareness on SOC and SOM, including the need for action toward preserving and enhancing its stocks, led to the joint organization of the Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon (GSOC17) by FAO, GSP and ITPS, IPCC, UNCCD-SPI and WMO in March 2017. The Symposium succeeded in reviewing the role of soils and SOC in the context of climate change, sustainable development and land degradation neutrality. Participants from 111 countries engaged actively by presenting the results of studies demonstrating the potential and challenges of managing and monitoring SOC and by discussing and elaborating key messages. Based on those results, recommendations were developed and were published in the Outcome Document of the Symposium “Unlocking the Potential of Soil Organic Carbon” aiming at supporting the policy processes and actions to encourage the implementation of sustainable soil management practices and strategies that foster the protection and sequestration of SOC. The GSOC17 Outcome Document recommended as a way forward, the establishment of two WG:

  1. A WG “for developing feasible and regionally contextualized guidelines for measuring, mapping, monitoring and reporting on SOC” and
  2. A WG “to coordinate the development of a technical and institutional manual on SOC management” […] “to provide context-specific guidance on the sustainable management of SOC at the national and local scales.” 

The progress reached by the ITPS WG “Global Management of Soil Organic Matter” and the Regional Soil Partnerships, including their Regional Implementations Plans, shall be hereby build upon. The outputs of this WG shall be within the scope of the principles presented in the Voluntary Guidelines of Sustainable Soil Management. The WG will be online-based. The results will be compiled in a technical manual on SOC, an FAO publication, at the end of the process. A proposal will be sent to all WG members after registration is complete by 15 October 2017. The establishment of this open WG is an important activity as part of the GSP Pillar 1 to “Promote sustainable management of soil resources for soil protection, conservation and sustainable productivity”.

The working group is open to all stakeholders interested to contribute. It falls in line with theinclusive, participatory and voluntary mandate and nature of the GSP, building on existing initiatives and institutions while bringing together all regions and countries of the world. 

Basis and considerations

The contributions made within the online collaboration of the WG should target the compilation and recommendation of best management practices and systems that promote the preservation and, wherever possible, the increase of SOC stocks in all land uses at regional, sub-regional and national levels to produce a technical manual. The contributions should be adapted to site characteristics and land user needs and consider cost-benefit analyses and social impacts. The priorities of action as reflected in the Regional Implementation Plans of the Regional Soil Partnerships will be thoroughly taken into account.

The material compiled should be based on scientific evidence. Although, peer reviewed journals are obviously preferred, this could severely hinder the scope of the search, because of the scarcity of publications in many regions of the World. Furthermore, these regions are often those where SOC sequestration or restoration practices have more potential or application. The so called “grey literature” and local reports could be taken into account, whenever their validity is carefully evaluated.

Recommendations resulting from the Global Symposium of Soil Organic Carbon as published in the Outcome Document “Unlocking the Potential of Soil Organic Carbon” shall be accounted for, in particular the following:

  • "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.”
  • “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.”
  • “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.”
  • “Prevent SOC losses by maintaining current SOC stocks (especially in carbon-rich soils) as the minimum action on SOC management.”