FAO Liaison Office in New York

World Soil Day 2020

The Permanent Missions of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Kingdom of Lesotho to the United Nations, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification invite you to a virtual celebration of the World Soil Day 2020, on Monday 7 December 2020, 13.15-14.30 hrs. Est time.

This year’s celebration’s theme “Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity” aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil biodiversity loss, increasing soil awareness, and encouraging governments, organizations, communities and individuals around the world to commit to proactively improving soil health.

The virtual event will have a special focus on soil science and will feature contributions from Member States, relevant UN organizations as well as dig deeper into experiences from various stakeholders on the ground. Lastly, the event will also witness an official launch of the UN Stamp Special Event Sheet for World Soil Day.

Since 2014, the UN General Assembly has designated 5 December as World Soil Day. The day, which is also His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great of Thailand’s birthday, is also the occasion to pay tribute to His Majesty and his lifelong work on sustainable soil management.

Register Invitation | Agenda

Speakers' bios

Opening

 

 

H.E. Vitavas Srivihok, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations

H.E. Vitavas Srivihok, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations

Mr. Srivihok took up his appointment as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the United Nations in May 2019, after having served as Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok, Thailand since 2015. Before that, he was his country’s Ambassador to the Czech Republic between 2012 and 2015, and to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic from 2010 to 2012. He served as Director General of the Department for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2007‑2010), Ambassador Attached to the Foreign Ministry (2004‑2007), Bureau Director in the Office of Policy and Planning within the Office of the Permanent Secretary (2003), and Director of the Policy and Planning Division (2000‑2003).

Between 1995 and 2000, Mr. Srivihok served as First Secretary in the Office of the Secretary to the Minister; First Secretary, International Conference Division, Department of International Organizations; and Counsellor in several divisions within that department, including the International Conference Division and the Peace, Security and Disarmament Division.

He was Second Secretary at Thailand’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York from 1990 to 1992, and then First Secretary until 1995. Mr. Srivihok joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an attaché in 1986.

Holding a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, he also received a master’s in the same field from the University of Mississippi in the United States.

 

 

H.E. Munir Akram, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in New York

H.E. Munir Akram, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in New York

His Excellency Munir Akram assumed his position as Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary on 01 November 2019. He was subsequently elected the seventy-sixth President of the Economic and Social Council on 23 July 2020.

Ambassador Akram previously served as Pakistan’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York for six years between 2002 and 2008, after serving as Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva for seven years from 1995 to 2002.

During his first term at the United Nations, Ambassador Munir Akram served twice as President of the Security Council in May 2003 and in May 2004; President of the Economic and Social Council in 2005; Chairman of the Group of 77 and China (developing countries) in 2007, and Facilitator on UN Administrative Reform in 2006. Among the positions he held in various intergovernmental organizations were: Member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament; Chairman of the WTO Trade Policy Review Body; President of the Conference on Disarmament (June 1996).

Between 1988 and 1992, Munir Akram was Pakistan’s Ambassador to the European Council, Belgium and Luxemburg.

Ambassador Akram joined the Foreign Service of Pakistan in 1967, holding various positions in the Foreign Ministry as Additional Foreign Secretary and Director- General dealing with the United Nations.

He obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Law and a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Karachi. He is a prolific writer and has lectured and published several articles and papers on various strategic, political and economic issues.

In recognition of his selfless service and outstanding performance in the field of diplomacy and foreign policy, he was conferred the Award of Hilal-i-Quaid-e-Azam by the President of Pakistan.

 

 

H.E. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations

H.E. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations

Ms. Amina J. Mohammed is the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Mohammed served as Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where she steered the country’s efforts on climate action and efforts to protect the natural environment.

Ms. Mohammed first joined the United Nations in 2012 as Special Adviser to former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the responsibility for post-2015 development planning. She led the process that resulted in global agreement around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ms. Mohammed began her career working on the design of schools and clinics in Nigeria. She served as an advocate focused on increasing access to education and other social services, before moving into the public sector, where she rose to the position of adviser to three successive Presidents on poverty, public sector reform, and sustainable development.

Ms. Mohammed has been conferred several honorary doctorates and has served as an adjunct professor, lecturing on international development. The recipient of various global awards, Ms Mohammed has served on numerous international advisory boards and panels. She is the mother of six children and has two grandchildren.

 

 

Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of FAO

Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of FAO

Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, is an economist and politician from Cape Verde. A leading expert in global development issues, she has worked in public service for over thirty years. Over the last decade, FAO has helped shape a new global narrative where agriculture is prominently recognized as a solution in addressing increasingly complex emerging issues – from transforming food systems to dealing with climate change.

Leading to deliver, Semedo promotes an integrated, inclusive approach, resulting in greater cross-sectoral engagement and stronger strategic partnerships, better positioning FAO in its role to promote a transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems. As part of the FAO Core Leadership Team, Semedo works to develop impactful initiatives such as the FAO Green Cities Action Programme and the corporate strategy for mainstreaming biodiversity across agricultural sectors, fostering multi-stakeholder dialogues that optimize the Organization’s 75 years of technical expertise and experience, its global reach and innovative approaches, all contributing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Before taking up her current duties in 2013, Ms Semedo gained valuable experience and insight in Africa, first as FAO Representative in Niger, then as Deputy Regional Representative for Africa and Sub-regional Coordinator for West Africa. Prior to her international career, she worked as an economist for the Cabo Verde Ministry of Planning and Cooperation before becoming Secretary of State for Fisheries, then in 1993 Minister for Fisheries, Agriculture and Rural Affairs – the first-ever woman Minister in her country. After serving as Minister for Tourism, Transportation and Marine Affairs from 1995-1998, she became Member of Parliament, a position she held until 2003.

 

Digging deeper: Experiences on the ground

 

 

Yuang Khieonin, local farmer and a Volunteer Soil Doctor, Nonthaburi Province, Thailand

Yuang Khieonin, local farmer and a Volunteer Soil Doctor, Nonthaburi Province, Thailand

Mr. Yuang Khieonin (67) is a local farmer and a Volunteer Soil Doctor from Nonthaburi Province of Thailand. He used to serve as a civil servant and had a construction business, but was not satisfied and suffered from stress, so he turned to farming. Since 1994, Mr. Khieonin started farming based on the New Theory farming system, developed by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great of Thailand. The New Theory farming model divides a farmer’s land area into four, well-defined plots for water storage; rice cultivation; vegetables, fruits, and herbal plants; and family dwellings and outbuildings for raising livestock. It aims at ensuring food security and building resilience against shocks and crises. With over 20 years of experience, Mr. Khieonin has now dedicated himself as a Volunteer Soil Doctor, to sharing his knowledge and wisdom with other farmers and help them achieve long-term resilience and sustainability.

 

 

Diana Wall, Scientific Chair of Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative, Professor of Soil Biodiversity, Colorado State University

Diana Wall, Scientific Chair of Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative, Professor of Soil Biodiversity, Colorado State University

Diana Wall is an ecologist and environmental scientist recognized for her research exploring soil biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in many ecosystems from the Amazon to Antarctica. Her research has emphasized how life in soil, from microbes to invertebrates, contributes to ecosystem services and benefits life. Diana’s more than 25 years of research studying soil nematodes, the most abundant animal in the Antarctic Dry Valleys, continues to clarify critical links between climate change and soil biodiversity. In recognition of her contributions, Wall Valley, Antarctica was named. Diana combines her Antarctic research, a place where species diversity is much reduced and physical limits to life are extreme, with tropical, grassland and global field studies having immense and abundant soil biodiversity and species.

Diana is currently Scientific Chair of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative. She received the 2013 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and was honored with the 2017 Eminent Ecologist, Ecological Society of America and the 2019 President’s Medal of the British Ecological Society. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, received the Ulysses Medal, University College, Dublin, and holds an Honorary Doctorate from Utrecht University, The Netherlands. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2018.

Diana is the Director, School of Global Environmental Sustainability and University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University.

 

 

Arianna Giuliodori, Secretary General of World Farmers’ Organisation

Arianna Giuliodori, Secretary General of World Farmers’ Organisation

Ms. Arianna Giuliodori was appointed Secretary General of the World Farmers’ Organisation, WFO, in December 2017. After her degree in Communications Sciences, Ms. Giuliodori got a Master in Economics and Rural Development at Siena University in Italy. Farmers and Agriculture have always been part of her working life: she spent 10 years serving at the Italian farmers’ organisation Coldiretti, first in Rome and then in Brussels, acting as Economic Officer, Secretary General of Young Farmers, Head of the President’s Technical Secretariat and finally as Senior Policy Advisor at the European Representation. Four years’ experience in an American multinational research and consulting company in Paris and an executive MBA at Sorbonne University complete her profile, giving her a strong business-oriented approach.

In her present position as WFO Secretary General, she has been strongly promoting a solid governance of the association and a wide set of international partnerships to ensure that the farmers can fully play their fundamental role in the Sustainability challenge.

 

 

Dinesh Panday, Youth representative

Dinesh Panday, Youth representative

Dinesh Panday is originally from Nepal and currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Tennessee- Knoxville, United States. He is also working as Communications officer at Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) Asia and Pacific Coordination Unit. Besides, he is the Coordinator at Maize Youth Task Force, a joint effort of CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE) and YPARD for the development of maize industry in Asia.

He belongs to farming community that his family who are still engaging in both subsistence and commercial farming. He believes, there are many factors that hinder agricultural productivity in Nepal, including high level of damages that are caused by soil erosion, poor soil nutrient management, lack of advance technologies, etc. Realizing this fact, his interest was diverted towards sustainable soil management.

Academically, he received his BS in Agriculture (2011) from Nepal. Then he moved into United States for his MS in Environmental Sciences (2015) and PhD in Soil and Water Sciences (2020). His research area includes biogeochemistry, nutrient cycling, simulation model and greenhouse gas emissions, digital soil mapping, with a focus on soil nitrogen management. He is equally active in youth, agriculture, and food security issues.

He received the 2018 MAIZE-Asia Youth Innovators Award from the CGIAR MAIZE for his work in soil fertility and nutrient management to determine the effectiveness of industrial by-product (i.e., char) in reducing environmental nitrogen loss and improve nitrogen fertilizer use efficiency in maize. His publications on Google Scholar are available here.

 

 

Ronald Vargas - Secretary of the Global Soil Partnership, Land and Water Officer

Ronald Vargas - Secretary of the Global Soil Partnership, Land and Water Officer

Ronald is a soil scientist with over 15 years of working experience in natural resources management with a focus on sustainable soil management for food security and ecosystem services. He joined FAO in 2011 as a Land and Water Officer and is the Secretary of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) since its establishment in 2012. He has supervised the implementation of the GSP, its regional soil partnerships and the establishment of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils. He leads the technical and scientific cooperation within and among regions, coordinates and facilitates the establishment of joint actions between governments, research institutions and NGOs for the achievement of soil-related SDGs. He initiated and facilitated the successful implementation of the International Year of Soils 2015. Since 2014, he is leading the preparation of audience-specific technical and communication material for the World Soil Day campaigns. He also directed the preparation of key publications related to soils, including the revised World Soil Charter, the Status of the World’s Soil Resources Report, the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management, the International Code of Conduct for the sustainable use and management of fertilizers, the Protocol for the assessment of Sustainable Soil Management and the Protocol for measurement, monitoring, reporting and verification of soil organic carbon in agricultural landscapes.

 

Closing

 

 

H.E. Nkopane Raseeng Monyane, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Lesotho to the United Nations

H.E. Nkopane Raseeng Monyane, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Lesotho to the United Nations

Nkopane Raseeng Monyane is the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Lesotho Mission to the United Nations in New York since February 2019.

Nkopane Monyane’s diplomatic career starts in 2013 as Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office, the Swiss Confederation and other International Organisations at Geneva.

During this period, he served as Coordinator for the African Group in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). He was thus, instrumental in the convening of the first WTO Ministerial ever held in Africa (Nairobi 2015), and the unique trade facilitation assistance facility established in the WTO following the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

Ambassador Monyane then served as Principal Secretary in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs as well as in Police and Public Safety prior to his assignment in New York.

He was a career banker for the period 1969 to 2001, which was only interrupted briefly to obtain degrees in Economics and Sociology, and a Masters in Banking. During this banking phase, he progressed to the level of General Manager of the Central Bank of Lesotho as well as ending subsequently to Managing Director of the Lesotho Bank.

The professional phase then moved on to the garment and manufacturing export services primarily in the US markets under the African Group Opportunities Act (AGOA).

In the fourty-four years of marriage to ‘Mamotselisi, they have been blessed with four children and seven grandchildren.

 

Official launch of the United Nations Special Event Stamp Sheet for World Soil Day

 

 

Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General, Department of Operational Support

Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General, Department of Operational Support

Mr. Atul Khare is the Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support since 1 January 2019. He was previously Under-Secretary-General for Field Support.

Mr. Khare brings to the position strategic management and innovative reform expertise in both headquarters and field perspective. Most recently, he co-chaired the Secretary-General’s internal review on Management Reform, one of the key change initiatives to improve the effectiveness of mandate delivery and to enhance transparency and accountability within the Organisation. Mr. Khare has had a long senior career with the United Nations, including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste and Head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) at the level of Under-Secretary-General.

Mr. Khare holds bachelor’s degrees in Medicine and Surgery from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences as well as master’s degrees in Business Administration and Leadership from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia.

 

Moderator

 

 

Melchiade Bukuru, Director of UNCCD Office New York

Melchiade Bukuru, Director of UNCCD Office New York

Mr. Melchiade Bukuru, is currently the Chief of the Liaison Office of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York. He attended negotiations leading to the adoption of UNCCD in 1994, its entry into force in 1996 and he contributed to the universality of the Convention (194 Parties) during a steady ratification campaign. Mr. Bukuru was in charge of involving the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in opening a new window on sustainable land management, developing an operational programme, and making the GEF a financial mechanism of the Convention. At the World Summit on Sustainable Development, he advocated for the UNCCD to be recognized as one of the tools to eradicate poverty and hunger, and thus to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

Before joining the United Nations in 1996, Mr. Bukuru, a career Diplomat from Burundi, worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Counsellor to the Permanent Mission of Burundi to the United Nations where he served several times as Head of Mission. He specialized in sustainable development issues and advocated during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, for a legally binding treaty to address desertification.