Global Soil Partnership

Global Soil Partnership @WorldSoils2022 Glasgow | 31 July - 5 August 2022

Five busy days of congress filled with oral presentations, posters, networking and distribution of material


FAO’s Global Soil Partnership (GSP) actively participated in the 22nd World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) held in Glasgow from 31st July to 5th August 2022.

The WCSS is the leading international soil science conference, held every 4 years in different countries and attended by over 3 000 soil scientists from around the globe. This 22nd edition was organized by the British Society of Soil Science on behalf of the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS).

The Congress theme, ‘Soil Science – crossing boundaries, changing society’ focused on the link between soil and society, with sessions covering soil systems, soil processes, soil management and how all stakeholders interact with and use soils around the world. More than 1 600 persons attended the event, while that same number was connected remotely via streaming. 

The congress opened on Sunday evening in the Scottish event campus (SEC), a riverside venue near Glasgow, with a welcome address by Bruce Lascelles, President of the BSSS. It was followed by an opening speech from Laura Bertha Reyes Sánchez, President of the IUSS. Also at the opening ceremony, His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, stressed how “we must change the way we farm in order to safeguard soils for the future and provide healthy food to all”.

FAO’s keynote interventions

On the morning of Monday 1 August, Ismahane Elouafi, the FAO Chief Scientist, addressed the plenary session emphasizing, “why soil health should be at the heart of agri-food systems”. “Ending hunger and malnutrition should be a priority for all” she said and “only with healthy soils we can reach several objectives, that support nature, food security and climate change and in the meantime achieve most of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. At the conclusion of Elouafi's intervention, participants split into different parallel sessions in the shape of discussion sessions, specialized workshops and oral and poster presentations.

On Tuesday 2 August, a one-day policy session was conducted in a plenary setting. In front of a large audience, Ronald Vargas, Secretary of the FAO’s GSP, made a presentation entitled "From advocacy on global soil governance to consolidation into national soil policies/legislation". He explained that "soils were neglected before 2012 and the challenge now is to catalyse actions to maintain the momentum". He also stressed "the importance of working more on the science-policy interface if we really want soils to be specifically recognized as targets and/or indicators in the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development".  This policy session, the first of its kind at the WCSS, succeeded in bringing together a large group of experts to discuss the complexities, challenges and opportunities of soil policy and governance.

Exhibitor Area

From Monday to Thursday, participants congregated in the main pavilion where exhibitors, sponsors, soil science societies and private sector representatives were located. The exhibition was the perfect hub of activity facilitating the gathering of participants while maximising networking opportunities between exhibitors and participants.

The GSP had a strategically placed booth next to the American Soil Science Society and the coffee lounge. This position facilitated the flow of participants and over 2 000 publications and brochures, and 300 shoppers were distributed, including the recently launched booklet on the State of the art of Soils for Nutrition and the GSP 2012-2022 brochure, which illustrates the key results and achievements of the Partnership over the last 10 years.

The GSP's booth was very popular among those interested in the GSP publications, information about how to become a GSP partner and how to join one of the various technical networks and GSP activities.

Scientific programme

The GSP and its Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) submitted a number of abstracts to the Congress. Two were selected in the form of posters: i) FAO’s International Network of Salt-Affected Soils (INSAS) - Joining efforts to manage salt-affected soils sustainably and ii) Recarbonizing global soils - A technical manual of best management practices. In addition, three oral presentations were delivered. Natalia Rodriguez Eugenio presented in a special session on soil mapping: “The Global Maps of the Global Soil Partnership: from bottom to top”. She  emphasized the importance of building and strengthening national capacities in harmonised and accurate soil analysis for reliable soil maps and models that will be used at the national level for reporting on soil health status and trends. A second presentation was given by Isabelle Verbeke on Wednesday 3rd August in the auditorium on: “connecting soils with people: initiatives of the Global Soil Partnership”. She stressed how scientists are now aware that they can no longer work in silos unconnected to people and that soil awareness and advocacy play a key role in bringing soils and people together. The interventions were very welcome and triggered some questions from both the floor and the participants connected in a virtual format. Finally, Rosa Poch, chair of the ITPS, delivered a presentation titled “Strengthen global and national capacities on soil information and soil mapping to support Sustainable Soil Management (SSM) decision planning". She showed the positive impact that the GSP training programme on digital soil mapping has had worldwide and the different practical tools that FAO has developed to translate soil maps into informed decision-making on sustainable soil management.

On Thursday evening, the Congress ended with an exclusive video message from His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. In his closing address, Prince Charles described soil as an asset that is too easily “overlooked, degraded and polluted” while “healthy soil can feed growing populations with a nutritious and varied diet, mitigate the effects of climate change, and provide water and flood management,” he said. He concluded by encouraging the audience to advocate for “such an extraordinary, miraculous living organic system to receive the proper attention it deserves”.

Related links

Agenda: Scientific Programme | Policy programme


Congress website

Flickr photogallery