A new World Soil Charter has been endorsed by FAO member countries during the 29th FAO Conference, which took place on June 6-13 in Rome, Italy. The new charter replaces the first World Soil Charter, which was formulated and adopted by the FAO in 1981. The adoption of the new charter also coincides with 2015 being the International Year of Soils (IYS).
A strong focus on soil has always been important for the FAO. However, new knowledge and changing conditions in land-use around the world urged the FAO to improve and modernize the charter’s focus to ensure its continued validity. While the first charter strongly focused on land use planning and land evaluation the new charter includes issues such as “soil pollution and its consequences for the environment, climate change adaptation and mitigation and urban sprawl impacts on soil availability and functions”. The concept of ecosystem services was also added to the charter.
The IYS 2015 aims at raising the awareness of the central role played by soils when it comes to issues of food security and the provision of ecosystem services. FAO member countries unanimously endorsed the new World Soils Charter, which gives it a high symbolic and political significance. Its broad support is a powerful indication of the continued importance of soils, hopefully leading to the implementation of institutionalized sustainable soil management around the world.
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