UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has said that, in a modern world where the population is growing, cities are expanding, the climate is changing and more food is needed, mankind urgently needs healthy soils to ensure the essential services they provide.
He made the disclosure in an official message to mark the World Soil Day, which was observed on Monday, 5 December, 2016.
World Soil Day (WSD) 2016 has “Soils and pulses, a symbiosis for life” as its theme. The WSD campaign aims to connect people with soils and raise awareness on their critical importance in their lives.
The WSD 2016 was celebrated at the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) headquarters in Rome, FAO regional offices and through national and local events.
A series of six postcards provide the key messages drawn from the book “Soils and pulses” that was launched on Monday. The messages include:
- Pulses, architects of healthy soils
- Pulses boost soil biodiversity
- Pulses improve soil structure
- Soil, a life enabling resource
- Pulses fix atmosphere nitrogen and improve soil fertility
- Soil and Pulses, symbiosis of life
Mr Ban’s message reads in part: “Sustainable management systems and practices will unlock the full potential of soils to support food production, store and supply clean water, preserve biodiversity, sequester more carbon and increase resilience to a changing climate.
“Sustainable soil management will also advance progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. It should become the worldwide norm in order to optimise our use of soil now and preserve and protect it over the long term.
“Pulses, also known as grain legumes, can boost soil health while supporting healthier and nutritious diets. Dry beans, peas, lentils and other pulses combine with soil in a unique symbiosis that protects the environment, enhances productivity, contributes to adapting to climate change and provides fundamental nutrients to the soil and subsequent crops. Pulses can fix atmospheric nitrogen in their roots. By freeing soil-bound phosphorous to make it accessible and usable by plants, pulses also reduce the need to apply external fertiliser. These are all drivers of sustainable development.
“The international community has identified collaborative and coordinated ways to protect and sustainably manage soils. There are valuable recommendations in the recently endorsed Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management developed by the Global Soil Partnership. Following these guidelines will help pave the way to boosting the health of soil and fully unlocking its potential to support mitigation and adaption actions in a changing climate.
“On World Soil Day, I call for greater attention to the pressing issues affecting soils, including climate change, antimicrobial resistance, soil-borne diseases, contamination, nutrition and human health.
“Let us build on the International Year of Soils 2015, the International Year of Pulses 2016, and all the activities supporting sustainable soil management to generate more hectares of healthy soils everywhere.”
Soils are complex mixtures of minerals, water, air, organic matter, and countless organisms that are the decaying remains of once-living things. It forms at the surface of land – it is the “skin of the earth.” Soil is capable of supporting plant life and is vital to life on earth.