The policy brief is the first of four planned publications being developed by the Global Soil Partnership to provide policy makers in all regions with evidence-based recommendations to support the promotion of sustainable soil management and healthy soils.
The publication consolidates regional and country-specific data from a number of sources to analyze the close links between soil health and food security and nutrition, water scarcity, climate mitigation and adaptation and involuntary migration.
1 April 2019: The Global Soil Partnership (GSP) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) has published the first in a series of region-specific policy briefs to support harmonized soil management approaches and contribute towards achieving the SDGs.
Titled, ‘The Multi-faced Role of Soil in the Near East and North Africa,’ the brief was launched on 31 March 2019, during the Near East and North Africa (NENA) Land and Water Days. Its main objective is to raise awareness on the added value of soil resources and trigger policy action to promote and implement sustainable soil management (SSM) for enhanced food security and nutrition, sustainable water management, climate change mitigation and adaptation and poverty reduction in the NENA region.
The brief outlines worst-case scenario projections of a 10-20% reduction in crop yields by 2050.
The publication consolidates regional and country-specific data from a number of sources to analyze the close links between soil health and food security and nutrition, water scarcity, climate change mitigation and adaptation and involuntary migration. Among notable findings for the region, the brief cites: an estimated loss of USD 9 billion per year from land degradation; worst-case scenario projections of a 10-20% reduction in crop yields by 2050; and high migration rates from non-conflict zone countries linked to environmental resource depletion or degradation, and food price shocks and shortages.
The brief notes that the co-benefits arising from effective and sustainable management of soil resources are cross-cutting and directly related to climate change and food security priorities. It outlines the link between healthy soils with at least nine SDGs: SDG 1 (no poverty); SDG 2 (zero hunger); SDG 3 (good health and well-being); SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation); SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth); SDG 13 (climate action); SDG 14 (life below water); SDG 15 (life on land); and SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals).
In order to address the multiple and complex variables that contribute to soil degradation and its associated impacts, the brief emphasizes the need for inclusive agricultural and environmental policies that recognize the need for SSM within a broader natural resource management agenda that integrates water security, climate change adaptation and domestic crop production priorities.
The brief concludes with four key recommendations to support a harmonized soil management approach in the NENA region: 1) using internationally recognized policy tools like the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management (VGSSM); 2) creating an enabling environment for SSM through fostering, inter alia, secure land tenure, effective education programmes and national soil information systems, strengthened extension services and international technical and scientific collaboration; 3) the wide use of SSM practices by farmers and other land users through concrete and targeted government strategies; and 4) the inclusion of SSM in integrated government investment strategies, especially related to water scarcity and climate change adaptation.
The policy brief is the first of four planned publications being developed by the GSP to provide policy makers in all regions with evidence-based recommendations to support the promotion of SSM and healthy soils. [Publication: The Multi-faced Role of Soil in the Near East and North Africa] [FAO Press Release] [2019 NENA Land and Water Days] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on NENA Land and Water Days Ministerial Declaration]