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Institute of Geology, National Autonomous University of Mexico (IGI-UNAM) won the King Bhumibol World Soil Day Award 2022 with “Proyecto Suelox”

IGI-UNAM awarded for raising awareness on the importance of healthy soils

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The Institute of Geology (IGI) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) won this year’s King Bhumibol Word Soil Day Award (WSDA) for its commitment to raising awareness of the importance of healthy soils, particularly during last year's World Soil Day (WSD) celebration, which addressed the issue of soil salinization under the motto "Halt soil salinization, boost soil productivity". 

The awarding ceremony, held in Bangkok on 5 December, was presided by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand. Mr. Axel Cerón González and Ms. Elizabeth Solleiro Rebolledo will receive a check of USD 15,000 and the medal on behalf of IGI-UNAM.

The institute of Geology of UNAM aims to provide knowledge about the Earth and its processes for the benefit of humanity and the environment. They are one of the main national institutions responsible for the coordination, guidance, and management of those working in soil science, research, and education/training in Mexico. In this capacity, IGI-UNAM guarantees improved soil management that embraces the highest standards of environmental sustainability and ensures increased agricultural productivity in the country. Its mission being to advance frontier scientific research in the different fields of geological sciences training high quality post-graduates/professionals and promoting a culture of soil science throughout society.

Two months ahead of the WSD, IGI-UNAM launched an exciting multidisciplinary campaign. This carefully planned effort culminated with a series of events that took place between 29 November and 5 December 2021 to mark WSD. The campaign mobilized young soil scientists and individuals interested in learning more about soils, in particular their formation, classification, geography, evaluation, education, and paleopedology.

Within the framework of the umbrella project named ‘Proyecto Suelox’: www.psuelox.org, IGI-UNAM coordinated a number of interesting educational initiatives. IGI-UNAM coordinated experts’ dialogue conferences, awareness raising activities and competitions such as the Mexican Soil Judging Contests – run with the support of the Youth Action Commission of the Mexican Soil Science Society, the International Soil Evaluation Workshops, and the launch of the Soil Evaluation Manual on soil hydrology, soil organic matter and soil memory. In addition, a series of 8 posters and infographics covering a variety of soil topics were produced and shared on a bi-weekly basis, thus reaching all soil actors in the country.

With the support of the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), IGI-UNAM developed ‘Suelófono’, a series of podcasts in the format of 20-minute-long interviews with internationally recognized soil scientists, who talk about soil-related topics in casual conversations with the public. This project, developed over two seasons, was first launched during the WSD in 2021 and its second season was promoted at the World Congress of Soil Science in August 2022 and represents an attempt to ‘democratize’ soil science and to continue sharing knowledge in Spanish through different channels, including Spotify.

‘Proyecto Suelox’ ties up together young soil scientists, people interested in soils, and internationally recognized scientists. Guest experts from Mexico, Germany, United States, Colombia, Russia, Cuba, and Spain worked closely to bridge the generational gap and create a coordinated knowledge platform on soils. The activities of IGI-UNAM had a domino effect in Latin America and around the world, leading to a long-lasting collaboration with the Peruvian Soil Science Society and the Polish Soil Science Society, also inspiring the creation of a network called Young and Early Career Scientist Working Group within IUSS structure.

One million people listened to interviews broadcast on the TVUNAM (Television Channel of the National Autonomous University of Mexico), followed the podcasts on Spotify and took part into the contests and related workshops.  Celebrations directly engaged more than 1 000 people, including citizens, scientists, government institutions, officials, students, and farmers that were introduced to relevant soil topic through digital and print media, podcasts, and social media campaigning.

Finally, yet importantly, IGI-UNAM clearly placed particular emphasis on young soil scientist and teens with interest in getting a deeper knowledge about soil salinization. As a result, the institute reported that many people seemed interested and motivated to know more about soils and the issues that threaten us and our Planet’s health.


Launched in 2018, the King Bhumibol World Soil Day Award acknowledges individuals or institutions that raise public awareness on soils by organising successful and influential World Soil Day celebrations. The award, sponsored by the Kingdom of Thailand, is named after King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand for his lifelong commitment to raising awareness on the importance of sustainable soil management and rehabilitation for food security, poverty alleviation and more. It consists of a USD 15,000 check and medal.

Former winners of the King Bhumibol World Soil Day Award include Practical Action in Bangladesh in 2018, the Costa Rican Soil Science Society (AACS) in 2019, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research - Indian Institute of Soil Science (ICAR-IISS) in 2020, and the Nigerian Institute of Soil Science (NISS) in 2021.

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