Global Soil Partnership

The State of knowledge of soil biodiversity – Status, challenges and potentialities and its summary for policy makers

Back in 2015, the Status of the World’s Soil Resources (FAO, 2015) stated that soil biodiversity loss is one of the main global threats to soils in all regions of the world. Soil biodiversity is a cross-cutting topic at the heart of the alignment of several multilateral environmental agreements international policy frameworks, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the recently declared UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) and the upcoming Post2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.


The 14th Conference of the Parties invited FAO, in collaboration with other organisations, to prepare a report on the state of knowledge on soil biodiversity covering its actual status and defies. As a result, the "State of knowledge of soil biodiversity – Status, challenges and potentialities. Main report" and its handy “Summary for policy makers” were officially launched during the World Soil Day global ceremony on 4 December. Over 300 scientists from around the world contributed to the preparation of the report, highlighting the threats and the nature-based solutions that soil biodiversity can provide to current global challenges. During the ceremony, Dr Qu Dongyu, FAO Director-General, mentioned that soil organisms are "silent and dedicated heroes" who are now being recognized thanks to the report. Prepared under the auspices of the FAO Global Soil Partnership, the report is the result of a coordinated effort of the FAO’s Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative and the European Commission.

Our well-being and the livelihoods of human societies are highly dependent on biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides. There is increasing attention on the importance of aboveground biodiversity. However, less attention is being paid to the biodiversity beneath our feet. Yet, the rich cosmos of soil organisms drives many processes that sustain life on earth and enable plants to produce food, regenerate soil or purify water. It is essential to understand the crucial role of soil biodiversity as a nature-based solution to different problems, including agriculture, environmental conservation, climate change adaptation and mitigation, nutrition, pharmaceuticals, remediation of polluted sites, and more.

Main report | Summary for policy makers