Global Soil Partnership

Italy, Portugal, Turkey and Ukraine taking the lead in the implementation of the VGSSM

The Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management provide technical and policy recommendations on how sustainable soil management can be achieved. Their successful implementation will pave the way to boosting soil health.


Soils are an essential and non-renewable natural resource hosting goods and services vital to ecosystems and human life. Ninety-five percent of our food comes from soils, which are also providing us with feed, fibre, fuel, and filter the water we daily consume. The sustainable management of soils (SSM) - an integral part of sustainable land management - is defined as the activities that maintain or enhance the supporting, provisioning, regulating and cultural services provided by soils without significantly impairing either the soil functions that enable those services or biodiversity.

Given that soil degradation can cause a significant yield penalty for staple crops and that 33 percent of land is moderately to highly degraded due to erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification and chemical pollution of soils, SSM is considered the basis for promoting food security and improving nutrition, supporting agricultural and rural development, and addressing poverty eradication. In this context, the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management (VGSSM) were endorsed by the FAO Council in December 2016 at the purpose of providing general technical and policy recommendations on SSM for a wide range of committed stakeholders. Efforts for increasing soil health will then contribute to achieve a hunger-free world. Currently Italy, Turkey, Portugal and Ukrainian are taking the lead in implementing the guidelines in their respective countries.

Currently available also in Italian | Turkish | Portuguese, and Ukrainian.