Under suggestion of FAO's Global Soil Partnership and with the support of the EU, in December 2013 the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed 2015 as the ‘International Year of Soils’ (IYS) and 5 December of each year as the ‘World Soil Day’ (WSD) (see UNGA resolution).
In order to find out what kind of awareness-raising activities and events could be organised or co-organised by the European Commission to mark the IYS, a scoping study has been prepared on behalf of the Environment Directorate-General of the Commission.
Facing ongoing soil degradation at European and global level, 2015 offers a unique opportunity to highlight the importance of sustainable soil management as the basis for food systems, fuel and fibre production, essential ecosystem functions and better adaptation to climate change for present and future generations. Besides being a key awareness raising instrument on soil as an essential, finite and non-renewable natural resource, the IYS will also be instrumental in mobilizing the international community to act towards its protection, in particular in the context of the Rio+20 resolution ‘The future we want’ and its goal for a 'land degradation neutral world'. The IYS will also be the background setting for possible events and initiatives at the World Expo 2015 in Milan which has the theme "Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life". In fact, the scoping study recommends to use the food theme as a dominant topic to shape the common perception on our soil resources, aiming at a more efficient use.
Following one of the suggestions of the study, the Environment Directorate-General of the Commission is working towards an extension of this website (expected to be launched in late autumn 2014) to establish a voluntary information platform on IYS activities planned to be carried out in the EU at local, regional or national levels. The objective is to increase transparency on the diverse range of expected activities in Europe, also allowing for better co-ordination and timing of events. It will contribute to the Global Soil Partnership's IYS website and, more generally, to sharing information, best practices, tools, educational material, apps, and similar dedicated to soil awareness. While the website in itself will be in English only, the intention is to collect material in any EU language. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to inform us about your initiatives.