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7th Plenary Assembly: Report available


The 7th GSP Plenary Assembly was attended by more than 250 participants representing around 75 FAO member countries and over 40 other GSP partners.

The plenary is the key decision-making body of the GSP, which calls on member countries and partners to review and prioritize GSP actions as well as streamline the global soil agenda for 2019-2020. After an update on the challenges and progress made since the last session in June 2018, participants were asked to take note of the GSP’s contributions to the promotion of sustainable soil management, important technical meetings and studies, normative tools, activities on the ground, and capacity development programmes.

In a nutshell, the main outcomes of the Plenary Assembly are the following:

Pillar one: soil management

An online consultation to review the Protocol for the Assessment of Sustainable Soil Management will be launched. Country focal points are invited to nominate an expert for the review of the Protocol for the Assessment of Sustainable Soil Management, as part of an upcoming online consultation. Country focal points are also invited to submit relevant information on the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management at the national level, and to provide the GSP Secretariat with the name of relevant experts to be part of a working group on a Study on the Economic Benefits of Sustainable Soil Management. Interested stakeholders are requested to provide resources and express interest in the implementation of the International Code of Conduct for the Sustainable Use and Management of Fertilizers. The Plenary welcomed and endorsed the proposal by the Near East and North African (NENA) Soil Partnership to establish an International Network of Salt-Affected Soils (INSAS). A concept note on the network’s establishment is currently being finalized and will be open for review until 30 September 2019. Interested stakeholders are encouraged to get in touch with Zineb Bazza regarding the concept note and any other matters involving INSAS. 

Pillar two: awareness raising

Countries and partners adopted the World Soil Day (WSD) theme for 2020 “Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity” and are invited to get involved and start the organization of the WSD2019 celebrations. Organizers of WSD2018 successful events are called on to candidate for the King Bhumibol WSD Award. Focal points are asked to spread the word on the Glinka World Soil Prize 2019’s call for nomination. The Plenary took note of the progress of the Global Soil Doctors Programme and interested countries and promoters are invited to contact the GSP Secretariat regarding its implementation. Finally, the Plenary also endorsed the implementation of the FAO/GSP branded educational and legal platforms EduSOILS and SoiLEX.

Pillar three: research

After discussing the past symposia  (Global Symposium on Soil Organic CarbonSoil Pollution, and Soil Erosion) and their outcomes, the members acknowledge the progress on the organization of the Global Symposium on Soil Biodiversity and agreed on the organization of a Global Symposium on Soil Salinity in Uzbekistan in October 2020. Members encouraged progress on the development of a soil research database for collecting information on soil programmes and projects.

Pillar four: information and data

The Plenary was in support of countries establishing their National Soil Information System and urged to focus on mobilizing resources for the support of the Global Soil Information System (GloSIS), and its global data products, including  Global Soil Salinity Map (GSSmap), Global Soil Erosion Map (GSERmap), Global Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration Potential Map (GSOCseq). In the framework of the Global Soil Organic Carbon map (GSOCmap), countries will continue to update and validate their national soil organic carbon (SOC) maps and use them for reporting on the SDG 15.3.  A representative from the IUSS Global Soil Map Working Group will join the Pillar 4 WG.  Mr. Montanarella, European Union, was elected as Chair of the International Network of Soil Information Institutions (INSII)

Pillar five: harmonization

Countries were invited to advertise the Global Soil Laboratory Network (GLOSOLAN) so to enlarge the participation of their national laboratories in GLOSOLAN’s activities. The Plenary acknowledged the launch of Regional Soil Laboratory Networks for Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific, and the upcoming launch of the regional networks for  the Near East and North Africa, Europe, Eurasia and (eventually) North America. The Plenary endorsed the amendment to the GSP Soil Data Policy and supported the submission of the “Resolution for the international exchange of soil samples for research purposes under GLOSOLAN” to the 27th Committee on Agriculture (COAG 27) in 2020. Ultimately, the Plenary recognized the efforts made by the GSP Secretariat and GLOSOLAN to organize the regional and global proficiency tests. 

Finally, the plenary: 

  • Requested to facilitate the election of the Chairs for GSP pillars 1, 2, 3 and 5;
  • Requested to ease the participation of member countries for the next Plenary Assemblies and explore the possibility of allowing online participation;
  • Endorsed the guidelines for the establishment of National Soil Partnerships;
  • Requested the improvement of the composition of working groups with a more active involvement of GSP national focal points;

  • Agreed on the submission to the COAG27 of the proposal of the GSP becoming an official body of FAO.


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