International experts gather at FAO to mark World Soil Day
©FAO/Florita Botts
5 December 2013, Rome – Experts from around the world gathered at FAO headquarters in Rome this week to mark World Soil Day. A number of issues have been raised by experts regarding the lesser know functions of soil and the issues concerning its degradation in many parts of the world. FAO studies have found that one quarter of the Earth’s land areas are highly degraded due to a variety of human activities –including farming. “From the origins of civilization in early farming communities up through to today, we can see how societies have prospered thanks to healthy soils and declined when their lands became degraded or infertile,” said FAO Deputy Director-General, Maria Helena Semedo, in her speech delivered at FAO Headquarters.

Ronald Vargas Rojas is a Soils and Land Management Officer at FAO and he is leading the implementation of the Global Soil Partnership. In the following interview he explains the role of soil in food security, the issues concerning soil experts at the moment and the implications if these issues are not addressed. (Interview conducted by Sandra Ferrari)
3min. 15sec.

Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General, Coordinator for Natural Resources.
6min. 46sec.

(0:00) Keynote speech by Mr. Robert Sichinga, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock of Zambia; (10:10) keynote speech “UN World Soil Day: a recognition of the critical role of soils for life” by Mr. Rapibhat Chandarasrivongs, Permanent Representative of Thailand to FAO; (18:56) keynote address “Towards healthy soils: is soil contamination a real issue?” by Dr. Luca Montanarella, Chair of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils.
28min. 10sec.