Action to improve soil for global food security

Jan 14, 2013
Action to improve soil for global food security
Credit: Shutterstock

As a society, we are becoming more aware of the many ways we can help support sustainable development and preserve the environment. Governments, scientists and international organisations are calling attention to soil: the basis for more than 90 % of world food production. With one in eight inhabitants of the world suffering from hunger, ensuring soil is managed and restored for global food security is vital. Soil is also important for sustainable development, and supports ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Every minute, 23 hectares of land face desertification, 5.5 hectares of land are transformed by urban encroachment (severely disturbing functions), and 10 hectares of soil are degraded, causing the soil to lose the capacity to support . Soil is - in human terms - a non-renewable resource. In effect, the earth is being stripped of its cover at a rate much faster than can be replaced, thereby posing a direct threat to sustainability. Around the world, there is a continuous decline in ; unequal access to fertile soil renders the livelihoods of many rural people vulnerable. This trend leads to , contamination of water resources, desertification, and increased vulnerability to extreme .

Now action is being taken by the Global Soil Forum (GSF): it has initiated a process of fostering translation of soil knowledge into tangible action. The GSF also acts as a voice in the national and international policy debate, advocating for soil management approaches that contribute to achieving and equitable access to this finite resource.

The forum recently launched the first Global Soil Week. More than 400 representatives of governments, scientists, international organisations, business and civil society met in Berlin, Germany, to consider the theme 'Soils for Life'. The event took place within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and served as a platform to follow-up on the land- and soil-related decisions from the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

Professor Klaus Töpfer, executive director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Potsdam, and chairman of the Global Soil Forum, says: 'Without fertile soils, food security, poverty alleviation and climate change mitigation and adaptation will not be achieved. The Global Soil Week, being the first of its kind, requests politicians, land managers and civil society to address soils and land management as a core priority area now.'

Discussions at the event concluded that urgent and consolidated action was needed to strengthen science and technology, build partnerships for change and raise awareness about the issue. To accomplish this, key actions were proposed including, facilitating the science policy-public interface; and making the Global Soil Week a continuous process. In addition, developing an agenda for action also focused on multilevel governance for zero net land and soil degradation, sustainable land and , and communication for change.

Explore further: Solar energy-driven process could revolutionize oil sands tailings reclamation

More information: www.globalsoilweek.org/
eusoils.jrc.ec.europa.eu/Inter… onalCooperation/GSP/
www.iass-potsdam.de/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

In soil we trust

Jul 14, 2011

Put simply, we cannot survive without soil. Its rich combination of minerals, carbon-rich organic matter and water supports plant life. It also harbours its own diverse ecosystem of millions of microbes and ...

Rediscovering sound soil management

May 10, 2011

At the same time that demand for food is soaring along with the world's population, the soil's ability to sustain and enhance agricultural productivity is becoming increasingly diminished and unreliable.

No-tillage plus

Jul 28, 2008

Tropical soils often behave differently than temperate soils when being farmed. In tropical regions, soils lose nutrients quickly when cultivated. With food shortages looming and soil quality declining rapidly, new farming ...

Farming commercial miscanthus

Aug 31, 2011

An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy examines the carbon sequestration potential of Miscanthus plantations on commercial farms.

A model to measure soil health in the era of bioenergy

Nov 19, 2008

One of the biggest threats to today's farmlands is the loss of soil organic carbon (SOC) and soil organic matter (SOM) from poor land-management practices. The presence of these materials is essential as they do everything ...

Fingerprinting fugitive dust

Jul 21, 2011

Each community of soil microbes has a unique fingerprint that can potentially be used to track soil back to its source, right down to whether it came from dust from a rural road or from a farm field, according to a U.S. Department ...

Recommended for you

Big changes in the Sargasso Sea

11 hours ago

Over one thousand miles wide and three thousand miles long, the Sargasso Sea occupies almost two thirds of the North Atlantic Ocean. Within the sea, circling ocean currents accumulate mats of Sargassum seawee ...

Water-quality trading can reduce river pollution

12 hours ago

Allowing polluters to buy, sell or trade water-quality credits could significantly reduce pollution in river basins and estuaries faster and at lower cost than requiring the facilities to meet compliance costs on their own, ...

Managing land into the future

16 hours ago

Food production is the backbone of New Zealand's economy—and a computer modelling programme designed by a Victoria University of Wellington academic is helping ensure that farming practices here and overseas ...

User comments : 0