This is a fundamental step towards boosting support for raising awareness of the vital importance of soils and promoting actions for sustainable soil management and protection in order to achieve a food secure world. Indeed, this is a response to the current vacuum through establishing a global authority to provide scientific and technical advice on soil resources and contribute to the global sustainable development agenda.
The Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils is composed of 27 top soil experts representing all the regions of the world. The main function of the ITPS is to provide scientific and technical advice and guidance on global soil issues to the Global Soil Partnership primarily and to specific requests submitted by global or regional institutions. The ITPS will advocate for addressing sustainable soil management in the different sustainable development agendas.
Healthy soils are a prerequisite to sustainable development. Considering the challenges posed by population growth and taking into account the alarming current soil degradation status in many regions, it is imperative to include soils in the ongoing Sustainable Development Goals dialogue. The ITPS will play a crucial role as it will technically advise the GSP and its members in this challenging process.
The first GSP Plenary Assembly was a milestone as its members provided fruitful guidance and endorsed a number of vital steps towards effective implementation of the Global Soil Partnership. The main outcomes of this Plenary Assembly were the approval of the Rules of Procedure of the GSP, the establishment of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils and support towards the celebration of World Soil Day and the International Year of Soils 2015.
Support was given by FAO Members and other partners for the development of Plans of Action for the five GSP Pillars and an initial roadmap of the GSP. The plans of action address: Soil data and information and harmonized methods, measurements and indicators for sustainable soil management (Pillars 4 and 5); Sustainable soil management (Pillar 1); Targeted soil research to address real problems on the ground, gaps and priorities (Pillar 3); and to support these, Investment, technical cooperation, policy, education, awareness and extension in soils (Pillar 2).
The Secretariat was requested to establish a trust fund to generate extra budgetary funds for the strengthening of capacities in the regions and to support the development and implementation of GSP plans of action.
The Plenary concluded with a firm commitment towards supporting the implementation of the GSP actions, as in view of their vital importance to humankind, soils should no longer be neglected.