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Global Soil Partnership Urges Immediate Action to Enhance Soil Health Amid Crises

As the Plenary Assembly continues over the next two days, participants remain focused on innovative solutions and collaborative efforts to ensure the long-term health and resilience of the world's soils.

KJ Staff
Soil (Representational Image Source: Pexels)
Soil (Representational Image Source: Pexels)

The Global Soil Partnership (GSP), a coalition aimed at improving global soil health, has opened its 12th Plenary Assembly with a strong call to action. Hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), this meeting brings together FAO Members and over 700 partners to discuss strategies for enhancing soil resilience and sustainability.

In his opening remarks, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu emphasized the urgency of the GSP’s mission to improve and maintain the health of at least 50 percent of the world's soils by 2030. Qu highlighted the need for political will, cooperation, and investment to achieve this target, underscoring the principles of reducing, re-using, and renewing soil resources.

“We champion a vision of a world in which soils are healthy and resilient, ensuring the sustained provision of ecosystem functions and services for all, leaving no one behind,” Qu stated.

Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils

A significant highlight of the first day was a session hosted by the US Department of State on its Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) initiative. VACS aims to build a resilient food system by promoting diverse, nutritious, and climate-adapted crops grown in fertile soils.

As part of this initiative, FAO is spearheading the Soil Mapping for Resilient Agrifood Systems (SoilFER) project in Central America and African countries. SoilFER is designed to gather critical soil data to inform policy and optimize fertilizer use at both national and local levels.

Showcasing Success Stories and Sustainable Practices

Thailand’s Land Development Department and the World Soil Day Association hosted an event to share success stories from Thailand and other nations. These stories illustrate effective policy actions and sustainable soil management practices that are adapted to local contexts and cultures.

Other crucial topics addressed include systems for Measuring, Reporting, and Verifying soil health; the Global Soil Laboratory Network (GLOSOLAN) quality certification for soil carbon analysis; Conservation Agriculture; and strategies to combat soil erosion and ensure food security through water and soil organic carbon management.

Addressing Global Crises through Soil Health

The FAO Director-General highlighted the increasingly complex challenges facing agriculture, from climate change and resource degradation to pollution and conflicts. These crises are driving food insecurity and famine, yet agriculture, with its deep roots in healthy soil, offers powerful solutions.

“Soil is the foundation of our agricultural systems, the home of biodiversity, and the ‘green water’ reservoir for our plants,” Qu said. He urged Members and resource partners to invest more in soil health and the GSP.

Achievements and Future Directions

Since its establishment in December 2012, the Global Soil Partnership has made significant strides in positioning soils on the global agenda. Key achievements include:

  • Establishing an Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils and international networks for soil matters.

  • Proposing and annually celebrating UN World Soil Day on December 5th and the International Year of Soils in 2015.

  • Endorsing the revised World Soil Charter.

  • Producing the Status of the World’s Soil Resources 2015 report.

  • Developing technical guidelines on soils for nutrition.

  • Establishing Regional Soil Partnerships and Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management.

The GSP's work is more critical than ever in the face of global challenges, and its commitment to sustainable soil management will play a vital role in transforming agrifood systems worldwide.

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