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International Year of Soils 2015

International Year of Soils 2015
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2015 was proclaimed as the ‘International Year of Soils’ (IYS) at the 68th UN General Assembly. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) will implement the IYS 2015 in the frame of the Global Soil Partnership, and with the support of EU and the collaboration of governments and of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (see UNGA resolution). Click here to access the official IYS website.

Soil is an essential, finite and non-renewable natural resource. The area of fertile soils at European and global level is limited and soils are increasingly degraded or irreversibly lost due to poor management and loss to urbanization. Every year an area of the size of Berlin is taken over across the EU by urban and infrastructure expansion and there is an increasing demand for land. 25% of the EU territory (1.3 million km²) is affected by soil erosion by water. The number of contaminated sites is estimated between 450,000 and 600,000. The Global Soil Week video ‘Better Save Soil’ illustrates the importance of soil.

Better save Soil

Please also watch the first film ‘Let’s Talk about Soil’ here.

The goal of the IYS is to raise awareness on the importance of “Healthy soils for a healthy life” and understanding of the importance of soil for human well-being, food security and essential ecosystem functions.

The launch of the IYS was organized world-wide on 5 December 2014 on the occasion of the 1st official World Soil Day. The official celebration as part of the 69th session of the UN General Assembly in New York was coupled with other ceremonies at FAO Headquarters in Rome and Bangkok. Special events were also organized in several countries to celebrate the World Soil Day and the International Year of Soils.

The European Commission was actively engaged in these celebrations

  • The EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella delivered a video message of at the 1st official World Soil Day celebration and the launch of the International Year of Soils 2015 at FAO Headquarters in Rome.
  • The Director General of DG Environment Karl Falkenberg participated to the official launch of the IYS 2015 in Berlin at the conference 'Germany's land use – global perspectives, global responsibilities'
  • DG Environment's Director for Natural Capital Pia Bucella participated in the World Soil Day session of the conference of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative 'Assessing Soil Biodiversity and its Role for Ecosystem Services'

The IYS offers a unique opportunity to highlight the importance of sustainable soil management as the foundation for food, feed, fuel and natural fibre production, essential ecosystem functions, including the supply of clean water, nutrient cycling, and better adaptation to climate change for present and future generations.

The IYS will be instrumental for mobilizing the international community for Soil protection, in particular in the context of the Rio+20 resolution ‘The future we want’ with the goal for a 'land degradation neutral world', in view of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by the UN in September 2015.

Further events during 2015 IYS

You are invited to support the IYS 2015 by sharing information on the educational and outreach activities you plan to carry out in the course of the year by writing to env-iys-2015@ec.europa.eu.