Soil is a finite natural resource. On a human time-scale it is non-renewable. However, despite the essential role that soil plays for human livelihoods, worldwide there is increasing degradation of soil resources due to inappropriate management practices, population pressures driving unsustainable intensification and inadequate governance over this essential resource.
Recognising the importance of soils, the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), in 2002, made a resolution proposing the 5th of December as World Soil Day. This day is aimed to celebrate the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to the human wellbeing through its contribution to food, water and energy security and role in mitigating biodiversity loss and climate change.
Despite these commendable efforts by IUSS and soil scientists around the world, soils have in recent decades been seen as a second-tier priority in international and national decision making processes. Indeed, soil degradation is a silent process that does not call the attention of decision makers. Yet, soils are a critical resource for addressing current and future pressures on limited resources and meeting growing demands of our expanding population. Recognition, advocacy and support for promoting sustainable management of soils is the only alternative to guarantee healthy soils for a food secure world and for the maintenance of the many vital ecosystem services that soils provide.
The tide may be changing and the moment is opportune to raise awareness of soils since Agriculture and Food Security are rising back to the top of the policy agenda in all regions due to several factors: the growing urban to rural population ratio (over 50%), the food price crisis and increasing threats to production from increasing climate variability and extreme climatic events, notably unreliable rains, flooding or extended drought among others.
Within the framework of the "Global Soil Partnership", FAO advocates for recognition of the importance of soils for achieving food security, as well as their pivotal role for providing a range of ecosystem services. In this regard, FAO, with full support of its country members (as expressed during the 144th FAO Council, 11-15 June 2012) requests the wider UN System to recognize and 5th December as World Soil Day and to institutionalize its observance. Associated activities will assist in creating awareness and achieving recognition of the vital importance of this finite, non-renewable natural resource and in mobilizing actions towards its sustainable management and protection.
Supported by the Global Soil Partnership and view of its importance FAO has decided, for the first time, to celebrate World Soil Day and to help place soils at the top of the agenda for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security worldwide.
Programme : Towards a World Soil Day 2012
The provisional programme on 5th December 2012 from 13.00 to 14.30 hours in Sheikh Zayed Centre, FAO Headquarters, Rome, will consist of the following activities:
Associated with World Soil Day FAO is also organised a 3-day technical workshop on Sustainable Soil Management from 5-7 December 2012