First Global Soil Week Discusses UNCSD’s Call for Land Degradation Neutral World
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The Chairman's Conclusions propose: facilitating the science-policy-public interface; making the Global Soil Week a continuous process; and developing an agenda for action that may focus on multi-level governance for zero net land and soil degradation, sustainable land and soil management, and communication for change.

26 November 2012: The first Global Soil Week gathered over 400 representatives of governments, scientists, international organizations, business and civil society in Berlin, Germany, from 18-22 November 2012, 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 initiate follow up on the land and soil-related decisions of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

The event was organized by the Global Soil Forum, which was established by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) Potsdam.

The Global Soil Week commenced with a film festival open to the public and a reception on 18 November 2012. From 19-21 November, participants convened in plenary, platform and dialogue sessions to consider topics related to an integrative perspective on soils, lessons learned in addressing challenges to soils, and a number of thematic topics. A wrap-up session on 21 November reviewed Chair Klaus Töpfer’s conclusions and an Outcome Paper, and discussed plans for the future.

The Chairman’s Conclusions suggest that responding to the challenges identified and discussed during Global Soil Week requires urgent and consolidated action in: strengthening science and technology; capacity building; partnerships for change; and soil awareness-raising. To accomplish this, the following steps were proposed: facilitating the science-policy-public interface; making the Global Soil Week a continuous process; and developing an agenda for action that may focus on multi-level governance for zero net land and soil degradation, sustainable land and soil management, and communication for change.

The Outcome Paper indicates that the goal of a land degradation neutral world needs to be made operational and implemented, and that, therefore, a zero net land and soil degradation target is called for. It suggests that soil policy should form part of global endeavors towards food security, embedded in a sustainable development goal on food security that emphasizes the link between development and environment. Among other issues, the paper also notes that a strategic partnership needs to build on an interdisciplinary approach, and that the first Global Soil Week was the beginning of a process.

On 22 November, participants convened in four working groups to discuss next steps for Global Soil Week, related to the following themes: the soil and water nexus for sustainable livelihoods; natural resource governance, securing the commons and voluntary guidelines; urbanization; global land and soil degradation, and global soil policy. [Global Soil Week website] [IISD RS coverage of Global Soil Week]


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