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Recipes for success on World Soil Day 2017

FAO, through its Global Soil Partnership, leads the celebration of the World Soil Day each year on 5 December to advocate for the sustainable management of our finite soil resources. 95% of our food comes from soils and across the globe, people are talking about how to tackle hunger and give everyone a decent diet. Healthy soils are often taken for granted, but they are the foundation of food production and indispensable ecosystem services.

This year, people gathered at 201 events in over 70 countries around the world, from Canada to India, and Brazil to Micronesia to raise awareness and increase responsiveness from governments and policy makers. 

WSD video | WSD Photobook | WSD Poster | WSD17 Flickr photogallery


This year’s theme “Caring for the Planet starts from the Ground” underlined the need to promote worldwide awareness and action about how important it is to focus on soil quality for food security, healthy ecosystems and human well-being. Unlocking the full potential of soils to not only support food production, but also to sequester more carbon, store and supply more clean water, maintain biodiversity, and increase environmental resilience to a changing climate, requires the sustainable management of soils. Indeed, the degradation of our soils is one of the cause of hunger and malnutrition – and hence conflicts and migration. 

Our soils are currently under attack and need people from all around the world to stand up and demand actions to protect them. More people than ever took part in the celebrations, conveying the FAO message on soils, the foundation of the food system and the basis of agriculture and the environment, made it one of the most celebrated days of the UN calendar. Observances worldwide reach record high and registered great echo in the media and amazing results on social media. Conferences, seminars and workshops were the most popular type of event held. The most innovative events held on World Soil Day were the opening of soil laboratories, soil painting competitions, soil experiments dedicated to children, spectacles, soil science fairs, quizzes and soil judging contests.

During “World Soil Day Wikipedia edit-a-thon” held on Dec 5, 2017 at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, members of the Canadian soil science community edited and improved specific content in Wikipedia such as pages that were notfully developed or that were lacking in media. In Tsilkani, Georgia the Minister of Agriculture of Georgia, His Excellency Mr Levan Davitashvili, officially opened the new laboratory for soil research named after the prominent Georgian agrochemist and soil scientist Prof. Ivane Sarishvili.

In Brindisi the UN Global Service Centre and Supply Chain Service (UNGSC) and its Environmental Technical Support Unit (ETSU) analyzed key contaminants representing environmental challenges in field missions, illustrating various equipment to detect the concentration of contaminants in soils and low cost soil remediation techniques to officers and non-technical audiences.

In Argentine, "Así son los Suelos de mi País", an educational project based on research work raised awareness on soil resources among secondary schools by working in an integrated way (school - producer and researcher) in order to increase public focus on soil research. Initially presented in the Southeast, Santa Fe, North and West Cordoba, it is expected to reach other geographical areas in the next academic year.

In the Philippines, representatives of the Department of Agriculture and its attached agencies organized the printing and posting of WSD17 megabanners, the distribution and wearing of WSD T-shirts, a recitation, a local parade, and a signed pledge of commitment on preserving soil and making agriculture more productive and sustainable.

Cities around the world added their voices to the global call for action for soil as a key element for the sustainable future of the planet. Bangkok, Lima, La Paz, Berlin promoted World Soil Day messages in key locations in the city center. In other locations, people gathered at a wide range of events such as marathons, marches, exhibitions, concerts, contests, markets, roundtables, and public lectures. Enthusiasm, involvement and soil awareness were the keywords of this year’s appointment and show how the interest in soils is moving forward in the global and local agendas. 

The GSP Secretariat wishes to thank all its partners and the fast-growing soil community through the publication of the World Soil Day Photobook and related Poster, and the WSD Special edition, which is dedicated to all event organizers and participants across the globe.

WSD video | WSD Photobook | WSD Poster | WSD17 Flickr photogallery