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ITPS Third panel and its ninth Working Session

The Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils held its ninth working session from 10 to 13 October 2018 at FAO Headquarters in Rome. It was the first meeting of the newly elected third panel of soil experts with a 3-year mandate (2018 – 2021). 

22/10/2018

Mr. Mansur (Director of the Land and Water division of FAO) briefly presented the main activities performed by the previous ITPS and the work performed since its 8th working session. The important and dynamic contribution made by previous ITPS panels was openly recognized as well as the utmost relevance of the items included in the workplan 2018 – 2019. After highlighting the main discussion points on the agenda, a presentation round by ITPS members (including their specialized fields of work) followed.

The members of the GSP Secretariat then introduced themselves, their main activities linked to the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) pillars and projects, and their facilitation role towards ITPS members. The GSP Secretariat presented their activities along the 5 pillars of actions and the lastest updates. The functioning of the GSP Secretariat was explained in details to the new members of the Panel, and working groups composed of ITPS members were created for all pillars. In addition, 5 different ITPS members were chosen to chair the works related to each Pillar of Action. Suggestions and proposals from the ground were accepted and will be taken into consideration by the GSP Secretariat. Some required further formalization (i.e. the White Soil Network – composed by countries affected by Soil Salinity) and will be discussed and eventually submitted for endorsement to the next GSP Plenary Assembly in June 2019. Mr. Vargas (GSP Secretary) stated the topics of the next Symposia, starting from the Soil Erosion to be held in May 2019, Soil Biodiversity in 2020, and Soil Fertility in 2021. Ms. Caon (GSP Secretariat) stated the progress on the preparation for the Soil Erosion Symposium and shared the related concept note. Mr. Barrios (FAO) presented on the Soil Biodiversity Symposium. He stated that no concept note was developed on soil biodiversity yet, as the project will be in line with the upcoming biodiversity convention. After the convention on biodiversity in Egypt in November 2018, a global assessment on soil biodiversity will be put forward. Within item 12 on the agenda, he clarified that the GSP is currently preparing global maps on Soil Erosion, Soil Salinity and Global Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration Potential as the Partnership received the mandate directly from countries during the last GSP Plenary Assembly in June 2018.

The discussion then focused on single items such as the implementation of the International Code of Conduct for the Use and Management of Fertilizers, conducted by Ms. Turner (FAO); the development of the study (by 2020) on the economic benefits of sustainable soil management (SSM) for farmers and other land users, including the identification of best practices that prevent soil degradation; the collaboration between ITPS and the SPI of UNCCD, IPBES and IPCC; the Status of the World’s Soil Resources report to be updated by 2025; the potential need of the GSP to broaden initiatives and actively relate to the management and regeneration of all scarce natural resources at once in order to attract financial resources from UN conventions. Dr. Valdemar Rodrigues, Director of Sustainable Rural Development of the Ministry of Environment of Brazil presented on the Recovery Units of Degraded Areas and Reduction of Climate Vulnerability (URAD) initiative, which was started in 2016 by the government in the Caatinga biome in Northeast of Brazil, where soil was eroding at a rapid pace. He detailed the success of the project, which was largely led by citizens, and informed the audience that the secret to Brazil’s success so far is due to integrating community action into the design process of sustainable production unit systems.

Last but not least, the election of the ITPS Chair was completed. Ms. Poch (Spain) was elected as ITPS chair and officially thanked the GSP Secretariat for the enormous amount of work performed up to date and all participants for the very lively meeting and debate. Dr. Lobb (Canada) was elected as the new vice-chair.

Next ITPS meeting will probably be organized during the week of the Global Symposium on Soil Erosion (GSOE), scheduled for May 2019 (TBC) since ITPS members will be involved in the symposium.

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