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Call for Experts on Soil Organic Carbon Monitoring

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

16/03/2018

In the presence of climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss, soils have become one of the most vulnerable resources in the world. Notwithstanding the enormous scientific progress made to date, protection and monitoring of soil resources at national and global levels still face complicated challenges impeding effective on-the-ground policy design and implementation that varies widely from region to region. There is still insufficient global support for the protection and sustainable management of the world’s soil resources.

The national monitoring of, and reporting on, SOC is becoming increasingly important in the fulfilment of global conventions and mechanisms. Under the UNFCCC, for example, national SOC stock changes are assessed annually in Annex 1 countries in relation to GHG emissions. Under SDG Target 15.3, SOC is assessed as one of three sub indicators (land cover [metric: land-cover change]; land productivity [metric: net primary productivity]; and carbon stocks above and below ground [metric: SOC]) of Indicator 15.3.1 (“Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area”), in accordance with the UNCCD’s LDN concept.

FAO, GSP and ITPS, IPCC, UNCCD-SPI and WMO jointly organised a Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon (GSOC17) 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 GSOC’17 Outcome Document developed a number of recommendations for the way forward. One of the recommendations is related to the establishment of 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. 

This open call for the establishment of the Working Group represents a response to the urgent need to identify, compile strategies 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.  Such guidelines need to build on existing scientific guidance, such as that being refined by the IPCC, and they should be sufficiently simple to enable implementation in diverse contexts and scales and given differing local and national capacities and capabilities to countries. Practical guidance should also include elements to support carbon-pricing mechanisms by relying on the measurement of SOC stocks to assess stock changes, rather than using only stock change factors based on land use and management practices. 

Contributors

The call is open for everyone interested to contribute including experts from governments, scientists and researchers, NGOs, policy makers at all levels, members of existing initiatives, and any other relevant stakeholder. As such, it falls in line with the inclusive, 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.

 

In case you are interested to join this working group, please send an email to Mr Yusuf Yigini (Yusuf.Yigini@fao.org ) by 10th April 2018.