Global Soil Partnership

Australia paving the way to the implementation of the World Soil Charter

Remarkable progress is coming from Australia with the first ‘Report Card’ mapping performances in the implementation of Sustainable Soil Management as referred to in the Revised World Soil Charter. 


Unanimously endorsed at the 39th FAO Conference in June 2015, the Revised Charter contains several guidelines for action by all stakeholders at all levels. Meant to inform decision-making at global levels and foster implementation of sustainable soil management at regional/local level, it updates principles and actions endorsed in the first version in 1981 that no longer reflected the world soil situation and therefore needed a change.

The Australian Soil Scientist Noel Schoknecht prepared a brief summary assessment of the country’s performance so far in the implementation of the nine action items set out for governments. He commented on the positive results achieved by his country in the promotion of sustainable soil management and socio-economic and institutional conditions favorable to SSM, prizing the Australian advanced policy framework on contaminants. Variable progresses were registered on research and capacity-building initiatives. Limited funding and buy-in  from state agencies for ameliorating the existing national soil information system were ensured. Finally the author assigned a fail grading to Action IX, V, and VI of the Revised Charter, respectively concerned with the lack of national institutional framework for monitoring, the development of ad-hoc policies and legislation on soils, and the attention paid to the issue of climate change in connection with carbon sequestration in soils.

“How can we plan for action, when we don’t really know what is happening?” The report card from Australia can be seen as an example to follow that can also kick start the launch of a yearly peer-reviewed critique of country performance delving into greater details of each recommended action.

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