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Newsletter #1 (October 2013)  Newsletter #2 (February 2014) | Newsletter #3 (July 2014) Newsletter #4 (August 2014) | Newsletter #5 (December 2014) | Newsletter #6 (May 2015) | Newsletter #7 (October 2015) |  Newsletter #8 (December 2015) | 

GSP Newsletter
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Global Soil Partnership Newsletter
#1 - October 2013

Introduction

Following the formal inception of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) which came about immediately after the endorsement of its Terms of Reference by the FAO Council in December 2012, the last few months have witnessed important developments of this initiative.

Soils are back on the agenda and the GSP partners are committed to making the best of this precious momentum in order to fully promote the sustainable management of soils.

©Ronald VargasThis is the first issue of a newsletter which the GSP Secretariat intends to produce and disseminate at regular intervals, to inform partners and other interested audiences about progress in the implementation of approved activities. Comments on the desirable contents of this type of concise and informal communication material are welcome and can be conveyed to the Secretariat by sending an email to GSP-Secretariat@fao.org.

I wish to invite all our partners and those who are not yet part of the GSP to join us in this new drive to promote healthy soils for a food secure world and a healthy planet. This newsletter should be a contribution, albeit modest, to give justice to the efforts done under the auspices of the GSP.

 

Dr Moujahed Achouri, Director
Land and Water Division, FAO - GSP-Secretariat

First Plenary Assembly

The first Plenary Assembly (PA) of the Global Soil Partnership was held on from 11 to 12 June 2013, at FAO headquarters in Rome. It was an opportunity for participants to provide fruitful guidance and to endorse a number of key steps towards effective implementation of the GSP.

The full report of this meeting in the different languages can be consulted on the GSP website at the following address: http://www.fao.org/globalsoilpartnership/highlights/detail/en/c/177933/
Two significant milestones were achieved:

  1. ©FAO/Giulio Napolitanothe adoption of complementary Rules of Procedure; and
  2. the establishment of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) by appointing the 27 members, whose biopics can also be consulted at the above website.

The PA also addressed other important dimensions of the GSP, including:

  • the foreseen preparation of Plans of Action under the five Pillars;
  • the progressive establishment of Regional Soil Partnerships; and
  • on the financial side, the need to establish a dedicated facility under FAO’s rules (Healthy Soils Trust Fund) to facilitate collection of extra-budgetary contributions and financial allocations to approved activities and projects in a transparent manner.

 

It can be foreseen that the second meeting of the Plenary Assembly (the dates of which are still to be determined, but which is likely to take place in or around June 2014) will have a particularly rich agenda. Representatives of partners may wish to bear this in mind.

Intergovernmental Technical
Panel on Soils (ITPS)
The first working session of the ITPS was held from 22 to 26 July 2013 at FAO headquarters in Rome. At this meeting, in response to pressing requirements both internal and external to the GSP, the ITPS agreed to embark on a very intensive programme of activities. Hence, the Panel is expected to deal inter alia with the following important matters, with related work foreseen to extend well into the year 2015:

  • review and endorsement of draft Plans of Action under the Pillars1 of the GSP prior to their formal approval by the Plenary Assembly; while the ITPS was able to endorse a draft Plan of Action for Pillar 4 at its first meeting, it is required to address four other ones, including at least two of particular complexity;
  • ensuring due reflection of soils in the Sustainable Development Goals being formulated by the international community and expected to bereleased by the United Nations General Assembly in the Autumn of 2015 (this implies supportive analytical work and active contacts with the pertinent UN entities). A draft Issue Brief on Soils and the Sustainable Development Goals was produced as a contribution to the Post 2015 process;
  • development and production of the first version of the new and seminal “Report on Status of World Soil Resources (WSR)”, planned for issuance in 2015;
  • interfacing with other panels or platforms of similar international standing: e.g. IPCC (climate change), IPBES (biodiversity) and also with other Organizations with direct interest in soils;
  • updating of the World Soil Chapter, a key normative instrument adopted in 1981 by the FAO Conference, with the new version to take account of many changes in the intervening period.

©Ronald VargasSeveral sub-groups of ITPS members have been appointed to deal with some of these complex subjects, and to carry out the required extensive internal and external consultations. In view of the heavy workload and the need to report to the PA in due course, an (extraordinary) working session of the ITPS is due to be held in early 2014.

From its side, the Secretariat is facilitating with all means the above work of the ITPS.


 

The GSP Five Pillars of Action:

 
  1. Promote sustainable management of soil resources for soil protection, conservation and sustainable productivity
  2. Encourage investment, technical cooperation, policy, education awareness and extension in soil
  3. Promote targeted soil research and development focusing on identified gaps and priorities and synergies with related productive, environmental and social development actions
  4. Enhance the quantity and quality of soil data and information: data collection (generation), analysis, validation, reporting, monitoring and integration with other disciplines
  5. Harmonization of methods, measurements and indicators for the sustainable management and protection of soil resources

©FAO/Alessia PierdomenicoWorld Soil Day (5 December) and International Year of Soils 2015
These key awareness-raising platforms on the importance of soils for food security, essential eco-system functions and sustainable development were endorsed by the 38th session of the FAO Conference in June 2013 (the PA of the GSP had also stressed their importance at its first meeting).

At the time of writing, they were under consideration by the GA of the UN for formal approval. A special issue of this Newsletter may be prepared to advise on the outcome of related negotiations in the GA.

Regional Soil Partnerships
A launch workshop for the establishment of a Regional Soil Partnership in Central America and the Caribbean was held in Habana, Cuba from 30 September to 3 October 2013.

A meeting: “Towards the European Soil Partnership” will take place during the Global Soil Week on 31 October 2013 in Berlin.

As regards Central Asia, following a second online consultation on: “towards a Eurasian Soil Partnership for food security and sustainable development” organized during the Summer, a launch workshop is to take place in Moscow on 20 November 2013.

 

However, substantial efforts are still required by the interested partners in order to consolidate, or even initiate work towards the establishment and/or engagement in concrete joint activities of Regional Soil Partnerships in several other geographical areas.

Resource mobilization for the GSP
The Secretariat is actively following up on the request from the Plenary Assembly for a dedicated financial facility which may be called the “Healthy Soils” Umbrella Programme. Clearly, once put in place, this should greatly facilitate dialogue with donors and the development of pipeline projects which could be submitted to them.

Call for joining Working Groups for Pillars 1, 2 and 3
The Secretariat is inviting partners who are interested injoining the Working Groups for developing the Plans of Action for GSP Pillars 1, 2, 3 and 5.If you are interested, please register by sending ©FAO/Alessia Pierdomenicoan email to GSP-Secretariat@fao.org

Upcoming Events

  • Global Soil Week, 27 to 31 October, Berlin, Germany.-
  • GSP Session on Pillars 1 and 3 at the Global Soil Week, 31 October, Berlin, Germany.
  • International workshop “Soil spectroscopy: the present and future of soil monitoring”, 4 to 6 December 2013, FAO, HQ, Rome, Italy.
  • World Soil Day celebration “A day dedicated to healthy and productive soils ”. 5th December 2013, 12:30 FAO HQ, Rome.
  • Meeting of the World Soil Reference Base (WRB) Working Group, 5 to 6 December 2013, FAO HQ, Rome, Italy.



Global Soil Partnership www.fao.org/globalsoilpartnership

GSP Newsletter
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Global Soil Partnership Newsletter
#2 - February 2014

Highlights


FAO HQ, RomeThe Global Soil Partnership and the global soils community welcomed 2014 with a great start. The 68th UN General Assembly resolution has just designated the 5th December as World Soil Day and 2015 as the International Year of Soils. We are therefore provided with a unique opportunity to mainstream soils in the global development and environmental agenda. An opportunity we simply cannot afford to miss. The active contribution of all partners and soil stakeholders will be key for the successful implementation of both events.

Even if we are already a month into the new year, let me take this opportunity to wish you a healthy and prosperous 2014!

 

Dr Moujahed Achouri, Director
Land and Water Division, FAO - GSP-Secretariat

UN General AssemblyUNGA Endorsed Soils Day (5 December) and Soils Year (2015)
On 20 December 2013, the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided to designate December 5th as World Soil Day and declare 2015 as the International Year of Soils. UNGA, in its decision, also invited FAO under the GSP framework to support and facilitate the implementation of World Soil Day and the International Year of Soils, in direct collaboration with Governments, relevant regional and international organizations, civil society and the general public.

This is the result of two years of hard work from all the partners under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and facilitation of the Global Soil Partnership in order to inform UNGA members that soil is a crucial resource that requires urgent attention if we are to successfully address the various global challenges ahead.

The full resolution is available in all languages and can be accessed here.

Celebration of World Soil Day 2013
World Soil Day 2013As a side event of the 148th Session of the FAO Council, the Global Soil Partnership organized a high level event “A day dedicated to healthy and productive soils” to celebrate World Soil Day at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy on 5 December 2013. The event consisted of high-level addresses by Ms. Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director General, Coordinator of Natural Resources, H.E. Robert Sichinga, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Zambia and by H.E. Rapibhat Chandarasrivongs, Permanent Representative of Thailand to FAO. A keynote speech “Towards healthy soils: Is soil contamination a real issue?” was delivered by Dr. Luca Montanarella, Chair of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils. The event also witnessed the launch of the European Geochemical Atlas (GEMAS) by EuroGeoSurveys and a presentation entitled "SoilGrids1km: a proposal for an automated system for global soil mapping to support the GSP". The event was an opportunity to also launch the FAO Soil Portal and the Youth and United Nations Global Alliance (YUNGA) announced the creation of a new "soil badge" that scouts and other students can earn by completing a series of educational activities focused on soil and its management.

Ms. MariaHelena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-GeneralA conclusion of the 2013 World Soil Day event was that “Greater focus on soil health is needed to feed a hungry planet”.

The GSP Secretariat also supported the implementation of satellite events in Costa Rica, France, Cuba and Pakistan on 5 December 2013. Further information is available at: www.fao.org/globalsoilpartnership/world-soil-day/en

In parallel to this celebration, technical workshops on soil spectroscopy, soil classification and soil contamination were successfully organized.

International Year of Soils 2015International Year of Soils 2015 (IYS)
The Secretariat for the International Year of Soil will be based in FAO and will establish a Steering Committee to support the implementation of activities of the IYS. The composition of this Committee and decisions about activities planning will be decided at the upcoming GSP Plenary Assembly (22-24 July 2014). Meanwhile, an ad-hoc Steering Committee will be established to make progress in the preparation of this Year. Its first meeting is foreseen for March at FAO, HQ, Rome, Italy.

Designers and communication experts are already at work to build a strong IYS identity that will play a critical role in boosting the soil year’s visibility.

All partners and interested colleagues are invited to submit proposals for activities that could be implemented during the IYS. Please send any contributions to the GSP-Secretariat@fao.org

European CommissionEuropean Commission supports GSP Implementation
Since its conception, the European Commission has been a major supporter for the establishment of the Global Soil Partnership, in line with the EU's Soil Thematic Strategy.  After extensive dialogue, a project proposal has been accepted in order to provide €1 million to the GSP for selected activities during 2014-2015. These activities focus on supporting: a) the work of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils; b) the development of detailed Implementation Plans at regional level under the various GSP Pillars; and c) capacity development on improved soil information (digital soil mapping) in Africa.

Resource mobilization for the GSP
The Secretariat is actively following up on the request from the Plenary Assembly to establish a dedicated financial facility that may be called the “Healthy Soils Trust Fund”. An Umbrella Programme is under development as the basis for organizing a donors meeting in which potential funding partners will be invited to support the implementation of GSP activities.

FAO HQ, RomeSecond working session of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS)
The second working session of the ITPS will take place from 7 to 11 April 2014, at FAO headquarters in Rome. This critical meeting will tackle some highly compelling activities as its agenda includes: review and endorsement of four GSP Plans of Action (Pillars 1, 2, 3 and 5); progress on the preparation of the Status of World Soil Resources Report; finalization of the brief on Soils and the Sustainable Development Goals; as well as finalization of an updated World Soil Charter.

Second Plenary Assembly
The second Plenary Assembly (PA) of the Global Soil Partnership will take place from 22 to 24 July 2014, at FAO headquarters in Rome. The foreseen, very rich agenda deserves the participation of our partners’ best experts on the matters in discussion. We encourage participation of all those who can play an active part in this ground-breaking process and help achieve our partners’ high expectations! The draft agenda will be available at the end of March.

Regional Soil Partnerships (RSPs)
The establishment of Regional Soil Partnerships continued during the last quarter of 2013. They now include the European Soil Partnership and its sub-regional Eurasian Soil Partnership. We wish to extend them a warm welcome. The launch of the Pacific Soil Partnership workshop is planned for May-June 2014.

GSPAfter the expected endorsement of Global Plans of Action by ITPS and Plenary Assembly in their respective sessions this year, it is foreseen that Regional Soil Partnerships will take up the development of Implementation Plans for their respective regions. The GSP Secretariat will facilitate and support these regional processes. FAO Regional offices will be invited to announce the GSP and its RSPs at the FAO Regional Conferences in 2014 (Near East- 24-27 February; Asia and Pacific 10-14 March; Africa 24-28 March; Europe 1-4 April; Latin America and Caribbean 6-9 May; and North America 15-16 April respectively).

Partners
The Secretariat, through activities and advocacy events in countries, is encouraging those institutions, working on soils at national, regional or international level, to join and actively participate in the GSP.

We should all help in spreading the word to mobilize a broader and active participation. We invite all our readers to become dynamic advocate for the GSP and its critical role in soil conservation. We remind our partners that a registration form is available at www.fao.org/globalsoilpartnership/partners/en

FAO Soils PortalLaunch of the FAO Soils Portal
An FAO Soils Portal has been established to bring together and provide easier access to FAO’s work on soils across the various technical departments and decentralized offices. The website is regularly updated with further information on FAO’s activities. The Portal also contains soil legacy data and information produced by various FAO projects over many years. You can visit the portal at www.fao.org/soils-portal/en

Upcoming Events

  • GSPWorld Soil Resources Report Editorial Board meeting, 10-11 February 2014, FAO HQ, Rome, Italy.
  • European Soil Partnership Steering Committee meeting, 19-20 February 2014, IASS-Potsdam, Germany.
  • AAS Conference “The Soils of Africa: a forgotten resource”, 15 February, 2014, Chicago, USA.
  • GSP Pillar 5 workshop, 18-19 February 2014, FAO HQ, Rome, Italy.
  • Second working session of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils, 7-11 April 2014, FAO HQ, Rome, Italy.
  • GSP Symposia at the World Soil Congress, 8-13 June 2014, Jeju, Korea.
  • Second GSP Plenary Assembly, 22-24 July 2014, FAO HQ, Rome, Italy.

Next Newsletter
The next newsletter is scheduled for June 2014. Partners’ contributions arriving by May 2014 are very welcome.

Global Soil Partnership www.fao.org/globalsoilpartnership

GSP Newsletter
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Global Soil Partnership Newsletter
#3 - July 2014

Highlights


FAO HQ, RomeLast February the second Newsletter hinted at a busy year ahead for the GSP… a realistic forecast indeed! After a successful second meeting of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils in April, we are now gearing up to an exciting and challenging second session of the Plenary Assembly coming up on the 22nd July in FAO-HQ Rome. Both governance organs are dealing with matters of critical importance for the future of the initiative, including the formulation, endorsement and implementation of Plans of Action under the five GSP Pillars. But there are many other efforts and activities mentioned herewith, including some progress in the regions. This is undisputedly the level where concrete action should take place.

 

However, much remains to be done before the GSP can claim that it has created a viable and fully active network of Regional Soils Partnerships guiding effective implementation of its action plans. Progress is also being made in preparing for the International Year of Soils (2015) and 2014 World Soil Day celebrations. I would like to thank the partners for their active and continued support to move beyond the healthy soils Vision to a reality in all regions.

Happy reading.

 

Dr Moujahed Achouri, Director
Land and Water Division, FAO - GSP-Secretariat

ITPSSecond session of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils
The second session of the ITPS took place from 7 to 11 April 2014, at FAO headquarters. The Panel was tasked to inter alia: review and endorse four of the five Plans of Actions for Pillars 1,2,3,5 (with Pillar 4 endorsed last year); put preparations for the Status of World Soil Resources (SWSR) report on a sound footing; finalize an updated World Soil Charter; and discuss how to reflect the importance of soils in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are under formulation and negotiation at international level.

After extensive discussions, and intense redrafting by WG leaders and ITPS experts during the meeting itself, the ITPS was able to endorse the Plans of Action (PoAs) for Pillars One, Two and Five. Different arrangements were then made in relation to Pillar Three, whose preliminary draft was not deemed ready. It was agreed to postpone adoption of this PoA to subsequent meetings of the ITPS and the PA. In addition, Panel members agreed to prepare a brief on soils to be used by decision makers during the negotiations related to the SDGs. The ITPS also looked forward to more substantive interactions with other important bodies such as IPCC, IPBES and UNCCD, always aiming at ensuring due consideration of soils. Finally, the ITPS was able to agree on a revised World Soil Charter. This key policy document is to go through a rigorous process of inter-governmental consideration and endorsement through the PA of the GSP, COAG and the FAO Council during their scheduled sessions, and ultimately the FAO Conference for final approval in June 2015.

Click here to read the ITPS session full report

Preparation of the ‘Status of World Soils Resources Report’ (SWSR)
SWSR This new seminal state-of-the-art assessment report is to be prepared, peer reviewed and formally launched on 5 December 2015 (World Soil Day) as a major output of the International Year of Soils.

It will be a major source of reference on soils for the wide range of actors. The report will also present an assessment of the status and trends of global soil resources highlighting the threats to soil functions and their consequences, and conclude with a series of recommendations to policy makers and other stakeholders.

The production process is supervised by an Editorial Board and the work for the various chapters is shared among a number of lead coordinators and contributors identified from all regions. A Managing Editor has also been recruited. Contributions are made on a purely voluntary basis.

Click here for more information.

Establishment of the Healthy Soils Facility
The first GSP Plenary Assembly in 2013 requested the establishment of a Healthy Soils Facility to facilitate the coordinated mobilization of financial contributions from partners, while ensuring maximum transparency. Partners will have the opportunity to learn more about it during the upcoming second Plenary Assembly.

GSP PAIIUpcoming GSP Plenary Assembly
The second Plenary Assembly of the Global Soil Partnership will take place from 22 to 24 July 2014 in FAO headquarters in Rome. The substantial agenda should see the participation of our partners’ best experts since it will focus the endorsement of the Plans of Action for the GSP Pillars 1, 2, 4 and 5 and preparations for the International Year of Soils. There are signs that attendance should be good.

Launch of the Soils Badge
Soils Challenge Badge On 5 December 2014, the Youth and United Nations Global Alliance (YUNGA) in collaboration with the GSP announced the creation of a “soil badge” that scouts and students can earn by completing a series of educational activities focused on soil and its management.

A list of activities set up with different aims depending on children’s age can be found in this illustrative soil challenge badge.

Progress by Regional Soil Partnerships (RSPs)

Regional Soil PartnershipsEuropean Soil Partnership Plenary
The first plenary meeting of the European RSP was hosted by the EC Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy on 21 to 23 May 2014. Partners addressed current soil management challenges and opportunities; discussed possible policies on Sustainable Soil Management of relevance to the region; and sought to harmonize soil related measurements and methods.

Near East and North Africa Soil Partnership
The NENA Soil Partnership Conference took place on 17-19 June 2014 in Amman, Jordan. It aimed to look into the status, needs and priorities for promoting sustainable soil management in the region, discuss the setting up of a Secretariat and Steering Committee, and address a roadmap for the implementation of concrete actions.

The Secretariat is presently hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture of Jordan. Five steering committee members and five chairs in connection with the five GSP Pillars have been appointed from the region.

Upcoming Events

  • GSPSecond Plenary Assembly of the GSP, 22-24 July 2014, FAO HQ, Rome, Italy.
  • Eurasian Soil Partnership Plenary meeting, 10 September 2014, Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
  • Digital Soil Mapping training in Africa, September 2014, Kenya and Ghana.
  • Steering Committee meeting of the Central American, Mexico and Caribbean Soil Partnership, October 2014.
  • Launch of Pacific Soil Partnership, October 2014.
  • World Soil Day, 5 December 2014.

Next Newsletter
The next issue of the Newsletter is scheduled for the September- October period bringing you the main outcomes of the second Plenary Assembly meeting, including information on the preparation made for the International Year of Soils 2015 and World Soil Day 2014 (5 December 2014). You are all encouraged to provide any worthy news items that can be shared through the GSP Website or included in our newsletter.

Global Soil Partnership www.fao.org/globalsoilpartnership

GSP Newsletter
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Global Soil Partnership Newsletter
#4 - August 2014

Special Edition : Outcomes of the Second Plenary Assembly

From Intentions to Agreed Actions

 

FAO HQ, RomeIn the last edition (GSP Newsletter #3) we anticipated that the fourth newsletter would be disseminated in September. However, with the exceedingly productive outcomes of the second Plenary Assembly (PA) meeting that has just concluded in Rome we feel we want to bring you up to speed with the encouraging results. These have immediate implications for many GSP actors and institutional components, so it is our wish to share this impressive progress with the international soil community immediately.

 

This Newsletter is therefore essentially devoted to outcomes of the 2nd PA session, in anticipation of its forthcoming report, which will be widely available in all FAO languages to all interested parties.

Happy reading.

 

Dr Moujahed Achouri, Director
Land and Water Division, FAO - GSP-Secretariat

openingAttendance and opening

The session was well attended, with noticeably more participants from non-governmental partners, which is a positive sign of expanding GSP outreach. Dr Pavel Krasilnikov from the Russian Federation presided over the proceedings, while Mr Mahmoud Alferihat from Jordan was appointed as Rapporteur.

A keynote address was delivered by Mr Aroldo Cedraz, Minister of the Federal Court of Accounts of Brazil, highlighting the important role of soils in the provisioning of ecosystem services and focusing on the intention of his national authorities to organize a major Conference on soil governance, to be held in Brasilia from 25-27 March 2015.

Approval of four Plans of Action (PoAs) under the GSP Pillars

action This is no doubt the major achievement of the session. The four PoAs, for pillar 1, pillar 2, pillar 4 and pillar 5, as endorsed and transmitted by the ITPS, were addressed by the PA with immediate reconsolidation aiming to reach :

  • more condensed, policy –oriented recommendations,
  • “punchier” Executive Summaries or introductory sections;
  • improved articulation among the Pillars;
  • consistent definitions and glossaries and avoidance of too controversial or ambiguous language.

The revision process managed to deliver the planned objectives, resulting in more strategic, consolidated recommendations. More specifically, it was possible to reduce drastically their numbers: i.e. for Pillar one, from 11 to 5; for Pillar two, from 17 to 7; for Pillar four, from 23 to 4; for Pillar five, from 13 to 6. Pillar 3 will instead be addressed at a future plenary session.

The next step is the development of the implementation plans. These plans will require substantial financial support, highly focused resource mobilization efforts need to be put in place through the Healthy Soil Facility (see below).

The international soil community has now an almost complete blueprint for action at its disposal.

Work of the ITPS – new report on the “Status of the World Soils Resources”
ITPS

The Assembly commended the many valuable activities undertaken by the ITPS over nearly one year of operation. It expressed particular appreciation for the proposed new, seminal report entitled: “Status of the World Soils Resources” (SWSR). The first version of the SWSR is to be issued towards the end of 2015, with the active involvement of a large number of contributors. Due to the tight deadlines, this first version should not be expected to be as comprehensive as desirable (e.g. in terms of full reflection of national reports) but it should pave the way for more elaborate, successive versions.

The PA also confirmed the need for active ITPS engagement with other Panels or major international initiatives with interest in soils. The main targets of future progress in that direction are expected to be IPBES, the IPCC and the Science Policy Interface (SPI) established by the UNCCD. However, the ITPS was also invited to establish firm links with non UN international institutions such as the IUSS.

Instauration of a “GSP focal point” system for government partners

With regard to the country partners of the GSP, the Assembly agreed with the assessment by the Secretariat of a priority need for a “focal point system”, with a view to enhancing dissemination of information to, and technical exchanges with national authorities at a more working level, as was done in many other substantive areas. This focal point arrangement will of course be complementary to the established channels of communication with FAO Members, which would continue to be used for important policy matters.

A request to that end is shortly to be sent to Members, giving sufficient time for the national authorities to select focal points.

Endorsement of the Healthy Soils Facility

In a context of substantial additional resources required for the implementation of concrete programmes and projects in support of the GSP goals and pillars of action at all levels, the PA welcomed the establishment of the Healthy Soils Facility. This had been formulated by the Secretariat in response to a specific request made at the first session of the PA. The Assembly noted that the Facility was intended to be a flexible tool at the service of partners to facilitate resource mobilization.

Revised World Soil Charter

World Soil Charter Another key outcome of this PA was the endorsement of a revised World Soil Charter (whose first version was approved more than 30 years ago by the FAO Conference in 1981). An editorial team, including an ITPS member, further improved the text.

The further formal reviewing steps, up to the final approval of the World Soil Charter, include the 24th session of the FAO Committee on Agriculture (COAG) (29 September to 3 October 2014), the 150th session of FAO Council (1-5 December), and ultimately the 39th session of the FAO Conference (6-13 June 2015).

Regional Soil Partnerships (RSPs)

The Assembly received oral reports by representatives of several of the Regional Soil Partnerships (RSPs) on the current status in their respective geographical areas, i.e. the Near East and North Africa; Central America, Mexico aRSPnd the Caribbean; Africa; Europe (including the associated Eurasian RSP); South America; and Asia.

In observing the difference in stages among these initiatives, the Assembly stressed that further active dialogue among, and firm commitment from the concerned partners was required in order to establish a comprehensive and effective network of RSPs in all regions. Guidelines for the establishment of RSPs have been prepared by the Secretariat and were approved by the PA for wide dissemination. However, these guidelines can be adjusted to match locally-specific circumstances.

International Year of Soils (IYS) and World Soil Day (WSD)
wsd logo

The PA welcomed the plans being made to ensureIYS successful implementation of both awareness raising platforms in all regions and countries. Practical decisions made by the PA concerned:

  • the adoption of the logos for both events,
  • the establishment of a Steering Committee for the IYS, and
  • the selection of WSD themes for 2014 and 2015: i.e. respectively “Soils, a foundation for family farming”, and “Soils, a solid groundfor life”.

Other ways to enhance the IYS visibility and impact will include the selection of Ambassadors, the instauration of a World Soil Prize,and the use of the major opportunity to showcase the importance of soils provided by Expo Milano 2015.

Soils and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

SDG Last but not least, the Assembly noted developments in the competent fora of the United Nations, including the most recent agreement on a number of draft SDGs and associated targets and indicators. Due references to soils were already included in these draft SDGs. However, the formulation process was expected to continue towards further refinement and streamlining. In this light, the Assembly called on all GSP partners to pursue active advocacy on behalf of soils in all the national instances where inputs to the SDG formulation process are to be debated and prepared, up to the final stages of negotiations.

Global Soil Partnership www.fao.org/globalsoilpartnership

GSP Newsletter
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Global Soil Partnership Newsletter
#5 - December 2014

FAO HQ, RomeSeasons Greetings!

 

At the culmination of 2014, the global soils community should be proud that our silent ally - soil is back on the agenda and people are starting to become aware about the profound importance of soil resources. The first official UN World Soil Day was successfully celebrated on the 5th of December 2014 in more than 80 countries and was also the opportunity to launch the International Year of Soils with sound events in Rome, New York, Bangkok and Santiago. The year of 2015 is in the limelight and constitutes a year that all of us should be proud of, and we should strive to make the most out of it as it is a unique opportunity to pave the road for a soil-driven agenda well into the future. My best wishes for a healthy and prosperous International Year 2015 which is full of soil!

 

Dr Moujahed Achouri, Director
Land and Water Division, FAO - GSP-Secretariat

December 5th – UN World Soil day and Launch of the International Year of Soils

FAO HQ, RomeThe International Year of Soils 2015 officially kicked off on the first UN World Soil Day on 5 December 2014, with celebrations that took place in Rome, New York, Santiago and Bangkok. The Rome event, entitled "Soils, a foundation for family farming" was officially opened in FAO Headquarters by Mr. José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General. In his opening remarks, the FAO Director-General highlighted the significant contribution of healthy soils "to achieve our food security and nutrition goals, to fight climate change and to ensure overallsustainable development". The event was attended by a number of speakers representing various sectors including governments, academia, international organizations and the private sector. The event in New York was honoured by the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol of Thailand who indicated that this occasion constituted, “a highly propitious occasion to raise the awareness of the international community on the central role of soils in our lives". The event was also attended by various stakeholders who highlighted the significance of soils. The general consensus highlighted that all stakeholders stand united and will work together to make this International Year a success.

World Soil Day Campaign and Worldwide Events

FAO HQ, RomeIn order to help spread the word about the first celebration of the UN World Soil Day, the GSP Secretariat has developed WSD campaign material such as banners, posters, buttons, infographics, megabanners, t-shirts and additional materials.

FAO HQ, RomeOver 80 countries registered their events celebrating soils via a tracking tool, where the World Soil Day campaign material was widely used. Diverse groups including kindergarten and elementary school students, university graduates, museums, and soil institutes - to name just a few - joined forces and organized memorable World Soil Day events in their home countries. With deep gratitude to the many who agreed to share their photos, which have been compiled to create the first World Soil Day photo gallery.

actionWorld Soil Charter Endorsed by the 150th FAO Council

The FAO council that took place in Rome from 1st to 5th December endorsed the updated text of the World Soil Charter that had been developed by the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) and reviewed, amended and transmitted by the second GSP Plenary Assembly. The Charter will be finally considered by the upcoming 39th FAO Conference in June 2015. The significance of endorsement of the updated Charter by the FAO Conference in 2015 coinciding with the International Year of Soils is fundamental as this will encourage international efforts for reversing alarming trends in soil degradation through boosting wide adoption of sustainable soil management.

Editorial Board Meeting of the Status of World Soil Resources Report
ITPS

The Editorial Board of the Status of World Soil Resources Report (SWSR) convened for its second working session on 2-5th December at FAO HQ to review the progress on the preparation of this seminal report. The report, an initiative of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS), is to be launched during the closing ceremony of the International Year of Soils on December 5th, 2015. (World's Soil Day of the UN Year of the Soil).

The board acknowledged the status of this important initiative and thanked all the more than 180 scientists who are contributing to this collaborative effort. An intensive way forward was agreed by board members in order to finalize a highly quality report that is widely anticipated by the different stakeholders.

Progress on Regional Soil Partnerships

actionOn October 13th, members of the soil community from 12 Pacific countries together with universities, research institutes, SPC and FAO assembled in Suva, Fiji to establish the Pacific Soil Partnership. This regional partnership is hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). There has been significant progress on the establishment of regional soil partnerships as most of the regions have joined forces already. Currently, while there is an ongoing consolidation process, the main action in these partnerships is the development of their Regional Implementation Plans for which the Secretariat is providing facilitation at the extent possible.

Nomination of Focal Points to the GSP

The 2nd session of the Plenary Assembly of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP), held in Rome from 22 to 24 July 2014, endorsed the proposal for FAO Members to nominate “GSP Focal Points”, in order to enhance communication with the GSP Secretariat. To this end, the Secretariat sent an official request to FAO members to provide such nominations. The process is ongoing and is of paramount importance as the focal points will play a vital role in the implementation of Global Soil Partnership’s goals at all levels.

Implementation of the International Year of Soils

IYSThe implementation of the International Year of Soils (IYS) will be guided by the IYS Plan of Action that was endorsed by the GSP Plenary Assembly. An international IYS Steering Committee was established for advising on the IYS implementation. A specific website (http://www.fao.org/soils-2015/en/) is available where the main IYS news is shared. Please register your own events on the IYS calendar.

Upcoming events

GSP Digital Soil Mapping training in Africa (Kenya and Ghana), February 2014

South American Soil Partnership workshop, Santiago, Chile, 2-6 March 2015

Congreso Nacional de Suelos y reunión del Pilar 5 de la Alianza Centro Americana y del Caribe de Suelos, San Jose, Costa Rica, 18-20 Marzo, 2015

Soil governance conference, Brasilia, Brazil, 25-27 March 2015

Third working session of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel of Soils, Postdam, Germany, 13-17 April 2015

Third Global Soil Week, Berlin, Germany, 19-23 April 2015

Joint session of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel of Soils and the UNCCD Science Policy Interface, Berlin, Germany, 20 April 2015

Third Plenary Assembly of the GSP, Rome, Italy, 22-24 June 2015

 

Global Soil Partnership www.fao.org/globalsoilpartnership

GSP Newsletter
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Global Soil Partnership Newsletter
#6 - May 2015

In this edition we will focus on the activities of the two bodies that represent the constitutional backbone of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP):

  • the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) that met in Potsdam (Germany) on 13-17 April 2015; and
  • the Plenary Assembly (PA) that will be holding its third session at FAO Headquarters on 22-24 June 2015.

During this third working session of the ITPS, great progress has been achieved, which include, among others, the endorsement of the first World’s Soil Resources (SWSR) report.

In relation to the Plenary Assembly, while the formal notification to interested partners has been issued through established channels, it is important to remind the “GSP community at large” about what will be at stake at the next PA, by using all the communication means at the disposal of the Secretariat. This is to facilitate timely and thorough advance consultations within governmental and institutional circles dealing with soil issues.

Clearly, one of the best indicators of health for such a high-profile initiative, albeit of a voluntary nature, is that the partners show up in great numbers at the meetings of its main governing body and make their voice heard.

Beyond these institutional meetings, I wish to share with you that the Regional Soil Partnerships (RSPs) are implementing regional workshops with the aim to consolidate existing RSPs, and especially to finalize regional implementation plans (RIPs). A few workshops are still upcoming so partners are invited to actively participate in them.

Finally, the usual digest of recent activities or other events of interest to the partners is also provided at the end of this Newsletter, essentially in telegraphic form.

 

Moujahed Achouri
Director, Land & Water Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Third Plenary Assembly

In addition to the eventual final endorsement of the Plan of Action for Pillar 3 and the Status of World’s Soil Resources Report (as amended by the ITPS), the main highlights are:

  1. FAO HQ, Rome the appointment of ITPS members for a term of 2 years;
  2. consideration of progress reports in relation to key dimensions of GSP (or GSP-induced) activities, i.e. the consolidation of an active Regional Soil Partnerships network and the formulation of Regional Implementation Plans (RIPs), efforts for Resource mobilization, future World Soil Day occurrences and developments in connection with the International Year of Soils.

The timetable and related documents can be found here. A call for nominations has been sent to partners as regards potential candidates for appointment to the ITPS (with a deadline for submission to the GSP Secretariat of 20th May 2015). The objective of this (always) delicate exercise is that the PA is in a position to appoint a spate of fully qualified experts, in line with the criteria set out in the Rules of Procedure of the GSP. The Secretariat trusts that all partners will engage into a passionate, yet objective screening process to achieve this objective.

It is also worth highlighting that the 39th session of the FAO Conference will take place between the 6 and 13 June, just a few days before this Plenary Assembly. The FAO conference is expected to give a final stamp of approval on a key policy document developed under the auspices of the GSP, i.e. the revised World Soil Charter.

Third ITPS working session

The ITPS endorsed: ITPS meeting, Potsdam, Germany 13-17 April 2015

  1. The draft Plan of Action for the GSP Pillar 3*;
  2. The “first ever” Status of the World’s Soil Resources (SWSR) report;
  3. A concept note on “sustainable management of soil resources”.

It also accomplished another “first”, i.e. a joint session with the Science Policy Interface (SPI) of the UNCCD, which took place on 20th April during the Third Global Soil Week in Berlin.
* Promote targeted soil research and development focusing on identified gaps, priorities and synergies with related productive, environmental and social development actions

Joint session of the ITPS and the Science-Policy Interface of the UNCCD

This well attended session served as a unique opportunity for both panel members to learn from respective goals and activities, and to foster cooperation and synergies. Three fields of cooperation were identified: Sustainable Development Goals proposed for adoption next September by the UN General Assembly, and in particular SDG 15.3 related to land degradation (and land degradation neutrality), the need for addressing indicators on soil issues, and soil organic carbon.

Regional Soil Partnership Workshops

GSP Regional Workshop in Santiago, Chile  March 2015Since the inception of the GSP, the Secretariat has given due priority to assisting partners in establishing Regional Soil Partnerships. To date, all regions have established RSPs and most are actively engaged in further consolidation. The appointment of Focal Points by member countries has been a significant step forward as those focal points are becoming key players in regional processes. The main priority for all RSPs is clearly the formulation of viable Regional Implementation Plans (RIPs) and their execution, subject to availability of sufficient funds, both from within as well as – in most cases – outside the region. As 2015 is also the International Year of Soils, the Secretariat is facilitating the implementation of regional workshops for addressing the development of those implementation plans.

Developing capacities on digital soil mapping in Africa

digital soil mapping in Western and Central African countries (16-27 March 2015 - Accra, Ghana), and Eastern and Southern Africa countries (23-27 February 2015 and 13-17 October 2014 -Nairobi, Kenya).With the financial support of the European Commission, a capacity development programme on digital soil mapping was implemented to benefit 41 Sub-Saharan countries. The hands-on training was done by a team from the Nairobi University and the GSP Secretariat staff and addressed state of the art methods on digital soil mapping, with practical sessions taking place in Nairobi, Kenya and Accra, Ghana supplemented by distance sessions that allowed the development of national case studies. All participants were given a suitably advanced computer and related software to allow them to apply the acquired knowledge to national contexts.

Implementation of the International Year of Soils IYS

The implementation of the IYS is moving forward with many activities implemented by the IYS Secretariat, as well as more importantly by partners from all over the world. Please check the IYS website for a calendar of all IYS events as well as all the communication material specifically being developed for the initiative.

Upcoming events

African Soil Partnership workshop, Accra, Ghana, 20-22 May

Near East-North Africa Soil Partnership workshop, Amman, Jordan, 1-3 June

Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean Soil Partnership workshop, La Habana, Cuba, 1-3 June

Eurasian Soil Partnership workshop, Izmir, Turkey, 1-17 June

Third GSP Plenary Assembly of the GSP, Rome, Italy, 22-24 June 2015

Global Soil Partnership www.fao.org/globalsoilpartnership
 

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Global Soil Partnership Newsletter
#7 - October 2015

Soils back on the agenda

On June 22-24 member countries, non-governmental organizations, academic scholars, civil society groups and international organizations met at FAO headquarters in Rome for the third GSP Plenary Assembly. The Assembly reviewed the progress made in the promotion of sustainable soil management since the launch of the partnership three years ago and during the celebration of the 2015- International Year of Soils.

In this newsletter we are pleased to bring you an update of the encouraging results that came from the meeting. The International Year of Soils has triggered a number of actions at all levels and soils are back on the agenda. The challenge however remains on how to keep this momentum beyond 2015.

Happy reading.

 

Moujahed Achouri
Director, Land & Water Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Third GSP Plenary Assembly

The session was well attended and regions were well representeFAO HQ, Romed with participants from governments, civil society, private sector and other UN agencies. The Assembly appreciated the keynote address delivered by H.E. the Vice Minister of Land of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Mr. Jhonny Cordero. Ms. Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director General for Natural Resources, welcomed the participants on behalf of the FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva and highlighted the hard work and commitment of members of the Global Soil Partnership and the substantial achievements made in a short time span, culminating in the recent adoption by the 39th session of the FAO Conference of the updated World Soil Charter. The publication “Understanding mountain soils” and the IYS animation on soils and climate change were officially launched.

The session’s main outcomes as presented in the Report were the: a) endorsement of the Pillar 3 Plan of Action; b) appointment of new ITPS members and appreciation of achieved work; c) welcoming of the concept note related to the development of voluntary guidelines for the sustainable management of soil resources; d) appreciation on the development of the Status of the World’s Soil Resources report and e) support to all the work performed by the Regional Soil Partnerships and urged support to the execution of Regional Implementation Plans. The fourth Plenary Assembly will take place on 23-25 May 2016 at FAO HQ.

IYS ambassadors

On 10 June during the 39th Session of the FAO Conference, FAO Director General, José Graziano da Silva, officially appointed two Special Ambassadors.ITPS meeting, Potsdam, Germany 13-17 April 2015

The new ambassadors are Claire Chenu, French biodiversity expert and professor of soil sciences at Agro Paris Tech University, and Tekalign Mamo Assefa, expert in soil management, senior government advisor in Ethiopia, and professor at the Haramaya University. According to them, soils desperately need ambassadors, champions to speak out for this silent ally in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.

Both special ambassadors have firm recommendations and propose solutions for this year and beyond. These include the promotion of sustainable soil management, the need for more information about the state of soil resources; establishment of regional programmes; education and awareness raising about soils; and pushing for targeted soil policies.

Revised World Soil Charter

World Soil CharterMember countries during the 39th FAO Conference unanimously endorsed the new World Soil Charter that was developed by the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS). The original World Soil Charter (WSC) was conceived, formulated, negotiated and adopted by the FAO Conference in 1981. During the last 30 years the world’s challenges have become more evident and severe and the ITPS together with the GSP Partners considered that the 13 principles listed in the charter are still valid but needed to be updated and revised in light of the gained scientific, especially with respect to new issues, such as soil pollution and its consequences for the environment, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and urban sprawl impacts on soil availability and functions. The Charter’s implementation will constitute a significant contribution to the promotion of sustainable soil management and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Status of the World's Soil Resources Report: a seminal collective effort

The development of the first ever report on The Status of the World's Soil Resources, led by the ITPS, is a unique and commendable resource to serve as a sound basis for discussion and consultation, particularly for enhanced understanding of soil issues and scope for improvement measures. Over 200 top scientists from all regions of the world have contributed to the preparation of this truly exhaustive report. The main objectives of this reference book are to provide a global scientifically based assessment of current and projected soil conditions; to explore the implications of soil conditions for food security, climate change, water quality and quantity, biodiversity and human health and well being; and to include a policy message with a series of recommendations for action by decision-makers and other stakeholders.

It is hoped that the report will be used worldwide to stimulate partners to improve national monitoring on soil status and trends. In the future, the Regional Soil Partnerships and individual countries should be empowered to conduct their own assessment and reporting. The final version will be launched on the forthcoming World Soil Day celebration on the 4th of December at FAO HQ, hence constituting the main output of the celebration of the International Year of Soils 2015.

Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils and its fourth working session

ITPS second panel of expertsThe renewed Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils held its fourth working session on 14-18 September 2015 at FAO headquarters. New ITPS members committed to contribute to a busy agenda for the term 2015-2017.

The main outcomes of this session that are detailed in the report, were: a 2015-2017 ITPS workplan, including joint work with other panels, such as the Science Policy Interface (SPI), Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); an improved version of the concept note for the development of the voluntary guidelines for sustainable management of soil resources; a follow up activity on the Status of the World’s Soil Resources report; the establishment of working groups to support the development and execution of implementation plans; the production of a position paper on soils, climate change and food security to be distributed at the upcoming COP21; and the development of a position paper on the role of soils in meeting the SDGs.

Regional Soil Partnership workshops

During the first semester of 2015 Regional Soil Partnership workshops were organized in Asia, Africa,Regional Soil Partnership Europe, South America, Central America and the Caribbean, Near East and North Africa and Eurasia. The aims of these workshops were: to consolidate the regional soil partnerships by establishing/renewing steering committees and its secretariat; to review progress made on the preparation of Regional Implementation Plans, and to celebrate the International Year of Soils by discussing future awareness raising activities at national and regional levels. The RSPs are now fully on board finalizing their plans and in some cases moving into implementation of activities that were agreed by stakeholders in the different regions.

The International Year of Soils IYS

More than half way through the International Year of Soils, much has been accomplished at national and international levels. 
The Regional Soil Partnership workshops took place in several regions with the aim of developing regional plans on sustainable soil management for the next five years.
Numerous soil-related events are taking place around the globe including major international conferences, cultural and awareness raising exhibitions and educational events targeted at the general public, as well as technical sessions among soil scientists and other disciplines, linking soils with the wider food security and sustainable development agenda.

A wealth of communication material has also been prepared including fact sheets, infographics, posters and videos with the IYS logo translated into 30 languages.

World Soil Day 2015

World Soil DayThe World Soil Day campaign aims to connect people with soils and raise awareness on their critical importance in our lives. The theme for this year will be “Soils a solid ground for life”.


The WSD 2015 will be celebrated on the 4th of December at FAO headquarters in Rome and FAO regional offices. National events will also be organized. Please make sure to register your event and regularly check the map of the WSD2015 events.

Upcoming events

IYS side event at the 42nd Committee on World Food Security, 15th October, FAOUpcoming events HQ, Rome, Italy

ENSA Workshop, 21-22 October, ExpoMilano and JRC, Milan, Italy

GSP Side event at the COP 12 UNCCD, 23rd October, Ankara, Turkey

Planning workshop of the South American Soil Partnership, 29th October, Montevideo, Uruguay

Seminar “Agricultural biodiversity for healthy soils and people”, 16th November, FAO HQ, Rome, Italy

International Conference Eurasian Food Security Network and Eurasian Soil Partnership, 19-21 November, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

World Soil Day 2015, 4th December 2015, FAO HQ, Rome, Italy

Workshop “Establishment of the International Network of Soil Information Institutions”, 8-10 December 2015, FAO HQ, Rome, Italy

Global Soil Partnership www.fao.org/globalsoilpartnership
 

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Global Soil Partnership Newsletter
#8 - December 2015

Season’s Greetings

This year, which has been a key year for the soil community is coming to a close. It's been an exciting year packed with soil-themed initiatives that have taken place across the globe. It began with a challenge. As FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva said at the opening of the year twelve months ago, "healthy soils are critical for global food production, but we are not paying enough attention to this important silent ally". Describing soils "a nearly forgotten resource", Graziano da Silva called for more investment in sustainable soil management and awareness raising activities. Therefore, giving this “silent ally” a voice became one of the main goals of the IYS global campaign.

With soils explicitly mentioned in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the first time, strong foundations are now in place for more to happen. We need to keep the momentum going: 2015 may be over, but our soils still need us as much as we need them.


Another important element that emerged very evidently from the year, is the power of partnerships and collaboration. Through support from various partners, we were able to invest in precious awareness raising instruments. We hope to continue benefit from such support to be able to continue to play the critical role of informing, educating and disseminating advocacy for our soils. But we have also enjoyed support and collaboration from enthusiastic supporters, for instance we managed to translate the logo in 35 languages and we hope to break this record next year. The idea is to establish a year long conversation with our public through many channels and in particular through social media. Last but not least, we recorded on our map more than 600 events that took place all over the world, again, let’s make an effort to ensure that 2016 will continue to be a record breaking year in support of our soils.

My best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2016!

 

Moujahed Achouri
Director, Land & Water Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Closure of the International Year of Soils

To celebrate the closure of the International Year of Soils and the World Soil Day, many events of all kinds took place worldwide between the 4th and the 7th of December 2015. World Soil Day was celebrated at FAO headquarter on the 4th of December. In addition to the official remarks given by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, representatives from member states, UN agencies, IYS stakeholders and the IYS special ambassadors, Prof. Claire Chenu and Prof. Tekalign Mamo, also spoke about the legacy of the year and the way forward post-2015. "Let us promote sustainable soil management rooted in proper soil governance and sound investments. Together, we can promote the cause of soils, a truly solid ground for life," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon through the message he sent for the occasion. The webcast of the closing ceremony is available here. A vast number of celebrations were also organized by other FAO offices and other partners around the world.

Throughout the year a vast amount of information material has been produced in numerous languages. The “information box” provides information on soils through a broad range of products, making the topic accessible to everyone. It includes fact sheets, infographics, educational booklets, videos, posters, interviews and stories.

FAO has also released some key publications on soils this year including the Revised World Soil Charter, the Farmer's Compost handbook and Understanding Mountain Soils: A Contribution from mountain areas to the International Year of Soils 2015.

As the year end approaches, we are left facing another challenge: turning this year outcomes into concrete actions. The GSP is already implementing actions in all the regions to promote the sustainable soil management and activities will continue well beyond 2015. Initiatives such as the Macedonian Soil Information System and the Turkish soil carbon and soil fertility system were finalized this year. Among the many initiatives, the development of soil information systems in Cambodia and Afghanistan will commence in the coming months as well as an assessment of soil erosion in Malawi. Awareness raising will also continue with World Soil Day to be celebrated every 5th December and the World Soil Prize to be established under the GSP aegis.

Launch of the Status of the World's Soil Resources report

The much awaited report on the Status of the World's Soil Resources (SWSR) was launched on the 4th December in FAO headquarters, Rome during the World Soil Day celebration and the official closure of the 2015 International Year of Soil.ITPS meeting, Potsdam, Germany 13-17 April 2015

The report is based on the assessments of more than 200 environmental scientists of the state-of-knowledge on soil resources and soil change. It reports on the major soil changes globally and in more detail on regional changes. The report provides documented scientific data on soil erosion, soil organic carbon change, soil biodiversity changes, soil acidification, soil compaction, soil sealing, soil salinization and sodification, soil contamination, soil nutrient changes and water logging.

Yet the overwhelming conclusion of the report is that the majority of the world's soil resources are in only fair, poor or very poorcondition and that conditions are getting worse in far more cases than they are improving. In particular, 33 percent of land is moderately to highly degraded due to erosion, salinization, compaction, acidification, and chemical pollution of soils. "Further loss of productive soils would severely damage food production and food security, amplify food-price volatility, and potentially plunge millions of people into hunger and poverty. But the report also offers evidence that this loss of soil resources and functions can be avoided," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. Writing the foreword to the 650 page-long report, he expressed the conviction that the contents will "greatly assist in galvanizing action at all levels towards more sustainable soil management," adding that this was in line with the international community's commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Main Report | Technical Summary | Brochure

Establishment of the International Network of Soil Information Institutions


National Soil Information Institutions met at FAO Headquarters from 8-10 December and joined forces to establish the first International Network of Soil Information Institutions. Strengthening of soil data and information is the goal of GSP pillar 4 and since 2012, an effort was made to develop a coherent Plan of Action for Pillar 4 which was endorsed by the GSP Plenary Assembly in 2014. Following the “guidelines for the development of Plans of Action of the GSP Pillars”, an implementation plan was developed following an inclusive approach. Since this plan envisaged the establishment of a Global Soil Information System (based on a distributed model), and required the active participation and contribution of national soil information institutions, an International Network of Soil Information Institutions (INSII) was established.

During the workshop, the final version of the Pillar 4 Implementation Plan was developed, the Pillar 4 Working Group was established and agreement regarding the roadmap and roles and responsibilities for the execution of Pillar 4 were agreed.

Release of the Revised World Soil Charter

The Revised World Soil Charter has been endorsed by the 39th FAO Conference in June 2015. The significance of endorsement of the updated Charter was high as it coincides with the International Year of Soils encouraging international efforts for reversing alarming trends in soil degradation through boosting wide adoption of sustainable soil management.

 

EnglishFrench | Spanish | Arabic | ChineseRussian

Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management

The just concluded FAO Council supported the initiative for developing the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management. The aim of these guidelines is to support the implementation of the World Soil Charter in order to effectively promote sustainable soil management. A very inclusive process will be used for developing these guidelines and all partners will be invited to play an active role on this challenging endeavour.

Upcoming events

  • 5th ITPS Working session, Rome, FAO HQ, February 2016
  • Eurasian Soil Partnership workshop, Bishkek, Kirghizstan, 29 February - 2 March 2016
  • Soils side event at the Regional Conference for Latin America, 29 February - 3 March 2016
  • GSP Plenary Assembly, Rome, FAO HQ, 23-25 May 2016
 
Global Soil Partnership www.fao.org/globalsoilpartnership