Written by Dr. Ciro Gardi, Scientific Programme Coordinator, Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative
On July 22-24, 2014, I attended the Second Assembly of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) that was held in the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy.
Significant progress was made by the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (IPTS) and the GSP Working Groups (WG) in preparing the Plans of Actions for the five Pillars of Action http://www.fao.org/globalsoilpartnership/the-5-pillars-of-action/en/.
The main objective of the Plenary was to reach a consensus and approve the Plans of Action, enabling the following implementation phase.
The activity of IPTS was concentrated on the following aspects:
- Preparation and review of Plans of Action for the GSP Pillars
- Preparation of a working document allowing the soil community to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Post-2015 agenda
- Preparation of the Status of the World Soil Resources Report (SWSR), which should be released on the 5th of December 2015
- Revision of the World Soil Charter (the document has been discussed and amended during the meeting, before the request of adoption by FAO)
Four out of five Working Groups (Pillars 1, 2, 4, 5), dealing with the preparation of the Plans of Actions, presented final versions of their documents, that were discussed, amended and approved during the Plenary. The WG on Pillar 3 dealt with the promotion of “targeted soil research and development focusing on identified gaps, priorities and synergies with related productive, environmental and social development actions.” This is an extremely challenging task, so they are still working on the definition of the Plan of Action that will be discussed during the next plenary.
The discussion during the three days of the Assembly was very intense and useful, with some of the national and organization representatives particularly active.
On behalf of GSBI, I raised the attention on the importance of Soil Biodiversity for each of the five pillars. In particular, I offered the availability of GSBI for the scientific support for the implementation of the Plans of Actions already approved, the preparation for the Plan of Action of Pillar 3 and for the World Soil Resources Report.
During the discussion of the documents to be approved, several other members of GSP attending the plenary, such as the representatives of Switzerland, France, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and others, highlighted the importance of including aspects related to soil biodiversity. The amendment of World Soil Charter was of particular importance. Here the key role of soil biodiversity for the sustainable management of soil was further stressed.