Global Soil Partnership

Black Soils are key to achieving Zero Hunger and for climate change adaptation

FAO Director-General calls for sustainable management practices and global cooperation 


Caring and preserving black soils through sustainable soil management practices and global cooperation is imperative for achieving Zero Hunger and climate change adaptation, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today.

“Black soils constitute the food basket of many countries, and are very important for the world as a whole. Their high organic matter content puts black soils amongst the most productive soils in the world, but they are endangered as they are very vulnerable to human interventions and particularly prone to degradation,” Graziano da Silva said in a video message to participants of the International Symposium on Black Soil (ISBS18) taking place in Harbin, China.

Organized by FAO’s Global Soil Partnership, in collaboration with China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the Heilongjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the symposium aims to promote the sustainable use and management of black soils and identify relevant research gaps within countries with black soils.

The delegates from 18 black soil countries/regions and members of the INBS signed the Harbin communiqué and agreed to advance science and technology of black soils management in the world.

Black soils refers to many different soil types that often contain a moderate to high content in organic matter. This, with carbon as its main component, is crucial to soil health and fertility, water infiltration and retention as well as food production.  As a major carbon storage system, conserving and restoring soils are essential for both sustainable agriculture and climate change mitigation.  

“Poor soil management practices are causing high negative impact of their productivity, and are triggering soil organic carbon loses,” Graziano da Silva said, explaining that FAO and the Global Soil Partnership are working with member countries and partner institutions to promote the sustainable management of soils worldwide.

An excellent tool to help achieve this target, he noted, are the Voluntary Guidelines on Sustainable Soil Management adopted by FAO’s Council in 2016.

Last year, FAO and the Global Soil Partnership also launched the first Global Soil Organic Carbon Map, the world’s most comprehensive map showing the amount of carbon stocks in the soil.

“It was the result of a country-driven effort, based on their analysis of more than one million sample plots which gives us new knowledge about topsoil organic carbon content worldwide,” he explained.

“We expect this International Network to trigger concrete actions for the development and implementation of policies and practices for sustainable management and conservation of black soil,” he added.  

More information on the Symposium are available here.

FAO DG videomessage | FAO news article | Agenda English & Chinese | Poster | Details of the event | Presentations | Photogallery  | Harbin communiqué

Related links: 

International Network of Black Soils (INBS) | INBS launching meeting 2017 | Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon (GSOC17) | Photocontest on Black Soils | Flickr photogallery