FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Eurasian countries accelerate effort to reverse soil degradation trends

At least nine countries in the region stand united on the need to restore limited soil resources and stop alarming soil degradation trends. The “Izmir Communique’” and a related draft five-year implementation plan for the Eurasia region were adopted at the Second Plenary Meeting of the Eurasian Soil Partnership earlier this month.

Participating countries included Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The Eurasian Soil Partnership is a subregional chapter of the Global Soil Partnership – FAO’s international initiative to improve global governance of limited soil resources and ensure sustainable soil management, protection and restoration.

“In this region,” said FAO land and water officer Ines Beernaerts, “partners agreed that the main goal for the Eurasian Soil Partnership should be to increase the area of land under sustainable management – in agriculture and forestry – through the adoption of sustainable soil management practices at a wider scale, especially in areas affected by soil salinity.”

Discussions built on the results of last year’s meetings held in Uzbekistan and Turkey, where countries agreed on actions in the areas of governance, public awareness, investment in soils, targeted soil research, soil data, and harmonizing methods for soil management and protection.

Countries also highlighted the increasing need for investment in sustainable soil management by regional partners, programmes and financing. This investment, they agreed, was “a pre-condition for achieving sustainable development.”  They also emphasized the need for national budget allocations and improved institutional capacities.

The draft implementation plan – prepared with the participation of all partner countries from Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia – was presented  at  the Global Soil Partnership plenary assembly last week.

“Together, we need to mobilize adequate policy, institutional, technical and financial support for promoting sustainable soil management during the International Year of Soils and beyond,” said Yuriko Shoji, FAO subregional coordinator for Central Asia.  “We need healthy soils to achieve food security and nutrition goals, to fight climate change and to provide vital ecosystem services,” she added in her closing remarks.

Insights from the Eurasian Soil Partnership will be used to provide policy recommendations to FAO Member Countries and define priority actions for the Organization’s work in the region.

26 June 2015, Izmir, Turkey