Global Soil Week Considers Role of Soil Carbon in Uniting Post-2015 Land, Soil Science and Climate Agendas
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A focus on soil carbon sequestration could offer a common entry point for improved collaboration among science-policy bodies dealing with different aspects of land management, soil science and climate change.

These were among the conclusions of a joint session led by the Science-Policy Interface (SPI) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) on the opening day of the Third Global Soil Week.

global_soil_unccd21 April 2015: A focus on soil carbon sequestration could offer a common entry point for improved collaboration among science-policy bodies dealing with different aspects of land management, soil science and climate change. These were among the conclusions of a joint session led by the Science-Policy Interface (SPI) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) on the opening day of the Third Global Soil Week.

In her keynote address, UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut pointed out that, so far, the significant potential of soils to sequester carbon dioxide has only been marginally tapped. Stressing that sustainable land management (SLM) offers concrete solutions for adapting to the adverse effects of climate change while also increasing food security, she said the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offers a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to advance the protection of soil and land resources, by firmly anchoring the goal of land degradation neutrality in international development policies.

During the ensuing discussions, participants noted that while land and soil management overlap in many aspects, they are not identical, and discussed some interlinkages in the respective mandates and work programmes of the SPI and ITPS, as well as opportunities to work more closely together. They further discussed ways to collaborate on the topic of soil carbon sequestration, noting it can be significantly improved through the adoption of different land management practices. At the close of the session, the participating science-policy bodies made a commitment to join forces in order to better support policy making through the provision of sound, scientific advice on soil and land management.

In other dialogue sessions, participants discussed, among other topics: grounding global soil and land initiatives; challenges of doing transdisciplinary research; supporting soil decision making through soil and land information; land rehabilitation for food security; integrating arguments from the economics of land degradation into decision making processes; societal commitments towards healthy soils; cross-national strategies for soil protection and land use; the role of grass and grazing livestock in building resilience to climate change; and celebrating the International Year of Soils (IYS) 2015. The discussions highlighted the need to, inter alia: manage soils as a non-renewable resource; move beyond silos in research and practice; explore the link between soil management and food security; and consider the role of human rights as an overarching framework.

The Global Soil Week is a multi-stakeholder platform for sustainable soil management. Taking place from 20-23 April 2015 in Berlin, Germany, the Third Global Soil Week is convening under theme, ‘Soil – the substance of transformation’ and highlights the important role of soils for sustainable development and in implementing the post-2015 development agenda. The meeting, which also coincides with global celebrations of the IYS 2015, also seeks to assess whether current patterns of soil management will exceed biological and physical limits and how soils can be managed sustainably and equitably while ensuring food security and access to fertile land for the poor.

The Global Soil Week is convened by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and its partners, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UNCCD, the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS), the European Commission, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Economic Development (BMZ), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt – UBA). [IISD RS Coverage of the Third Global Soil Week] [UNCCD News Story on Opening of the Third Global Soil Week] [Global Soil Week website]


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