Sustainable Land Use: Food Security Starts with the Soil
On 28 January 2022, 68 agriculture ministers from around the world attended the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) – an international conference that is held each year in Berlin – to discuss agri-food policy issues. The topic of this year’s was “Sustainable Land Use: Food Security Starts with the Soil”.
“Reversing soil degradation is vital if we want to feed a growing global population, protect biodiversity, and help address the planet’s climate crisis”
said the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Qu Dongyu in his message to ministers.
The joint communiqué – adopted by 68 ministers – was presented to: Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Ibrahim Thiaw, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Gabriel Ferrero de Loma-Osorio, Chair of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and Luca Montanarella, Chair of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) Plenary Assembly.
“The GFFA communiqué lays the foundations for the new Global Soil Partnership Action Framework 2022-30. Monitoring soils and data are vital for concrete action on the ground”
said Luca Montanarella, Chair of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) Plenary Assembly.
Talks concluded with ministers at the GFFA agreeing to adopt the recommendations of the communiqué in a show of commitment by countries to fight soil degradation and boost soil health for the benefit of food systems.
In thanking the Government of Germany for organizing this outstanding conference, FAO’s Director-General pledged that FAO – through its Global Soil Partnership – would help facilitate its implementation.
By agreeing to abide by the contents of the communiqué – which is the first of its kind – ministers successfully set ambitious targets and demonstrated dedication to ramp up efforts to stem soil degradation. Some of the key points include:
- Soils must be protected;
- Progress must be made with climate change mitigation and climate adaptation;
- Soil biodiversity is vital for healthy soils. As global land resources are limited, they need to be managed sustainably;
- Fair (rights-based) access to agricultural land should be guaranteed;
- Investment, research, innovation and digitalisation can play a significant role in making the use of soils more sustainable;
- Resilient and sustainable food systems must be supported.
The Global Soil Partnership
Positioning soils on the global agenda since 2012
The GSP now boasts a ten-year repertoire of putting soils high on the international agenda. The aim of the Partnership in this initial period focussed on raising awareness and advocating for the importance of sustainable soil management for the provision of ecosystem services and the urgent need for action to reverse soil degradation through the engagement of all relevant stakeholders.
As part of the new FAO Strategic Framework, a new GSP strategic workplan for a ten-year period is currently being developed by GSP partners and FAO members.
The overall ambition of the GSP 2022-2030 work plan is to ensure that the world’s soils are healthy and therefore more resilient, including by improving the health of at least 50 percent of the world’s agricultural soils by 2030. Indicators and targets will be essential to monitor progress towards the specific targets and the overall ambition of this framework.
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