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Global Soil Partnership Newsletter
#3 - July 2014


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