At its very productive Second Plenary Assembly (22-24 July, Rome), the Global Soil Partnership endorsed the Plans of Action of four of its five pillars of action (Pillar 3 is still under development), the result of which can be seen as an “almost complete blueprint for action”1 for the international soil community. The Assembly also discussed the updating of the World Soil Charter, and approved the logos, communication strategy and themes for the 2015 International Year of Soils and the 2014 and 2015 World Soil Day (December 5).
The Global Soil Partnership (GSP) is a voluntary partnership which was initiated in 2011 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and its members, and formally endorsed in December 2012. It aims to improve the governance of global soil resources in order to guarantee healthy and productive soils for a food-secure world and to support other essential ecosystem services. Its work is organised along five main pillars of action: soil management, awareness, research, information and data, and standards.
At the GSP’s Second Plenary Assembly, four of the Plans of Action (PoAs) were presented by the respective Working Groups, and, after some synthesising and reformulation, were endorsed by the Assembly. IES scientist Arwyn Jones is Chair of the Working Group which prepared the PoA for Pillar 2, “Encourage investment, technical cooperation, policy, education, awareness and extension in soil”. The final PoA for this pillar contains seven recommendations, which include informing policy makers of the societal value of soil, making regular soil assessments, promoting education on soil, raising awareness, applying scientific research to agriculture, promoting regional scientific and technical cooperation, and developing soil investment strategies. IES scientist Marco Nocita also contributed to the development of the PoA for Pillar 4, “Enhance the quantity and quality of soil data and information”. The full texts of the final PoAs are available on the Global Soil Partnership website.
The Plenary also discussed the implementation of the 2015 International Year of Soils, approved the logo and communication strategy and endorsed the establishment of a Steering Committee. The logo for the World Soil Day (5 December) was also approved, and the themes for WSD 2014 and 2015 were respectively endorsed as ‘Soils, a foundation for family farming’ and ‘Soils, a solid ground for life’.
The Assembly welcomed the proposed new, seminal report “Status of the World Soils Resources” (SWSR), which is due to be issued by the end of 2015, and the updating of the text of the World Soil Charter, which should be submitted to the 39th session of the FAO Conference (6-13 June 2015). Although soils have been included in the latest draft of the Sustainable Development Goals guidelines, the Assembly called on all GSP partners to further advocate for soils until the final stages of negotiations.
About the Plenary Assembly
The Global Soil Partnership (GSP) Plenary Assembly is the annual meeting of the members of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel in Soils (ITPS, chaired by IES scientist Luca Montanarella), the GSP Executive Secretariat, representatives of the different partners and Members (ambassadors) of the FAO. The assembly, the formal decision-making process of the GSP, reviews and prioritises GSP actions.