Senwes Scenario Augustus / September 2015 - Page 58

••• NUUS THE WORLD IS CURRENTLY CELEBRATING THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF SOIL. 2015 WAS OFFICIALLY DECLARED AS THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF SOIL BY THE 68TH UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY. I n short the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has been nominated to implement the IYS 2015 within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and in collaboration with governments and the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. So what is the International Year of Soil all about? The International Year of Soil aims basically to raise awareness in 2015 of the importance of soil for food security and the ecosystem itself, which comprises of all plants and animals in an area. The importance of soil in a nutshell: Soil is made up of organic remains such as clay and rock particles that are found on the earth’s surface. We need soil to produce food, clothes and to build homes. Soil also has the ability to store and filter water, recycle nutrients and create a barrier against floods. SOIL IS DISAPPEARING The area of fertile soil covering the world’s surface is limited. Deforestation, bad agricultural practices and pollution can cause soil degradation and erosion. Soil is also trapped 56 underground when cities keep growing in size and more buildings are erected. WHAT ARE THE SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES OF THE IYS 2015? • The objective is to raise full awareness among civil society and decision-makers about the profound importance of soil for human life; • Furthermore, to educate the public about the crucial role soil plays in food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and sustainable development; • To support effective policies and actions for the sustainable management and protection of soil resources; • To promote investment in sustainable soil management activities to develop and maintain healthy soil for different land users and population groups; • To strengthen initiatives relating to the Sustainable Development Goals process and Post-2015 agenda; • To advocate for rapid capacity enhancement for soil information collection and monitoring at all levels (global, regional and national). Augustus/September 2015 • SENWES Scenario WHY DOES AGRICULTURE NEED TO SUPPORT IYS? Soil supports agriculture. Soil serves as the foundation on which we grow our food. The mere fact remains that everything in our diets comes directly or indirectly from soil. A few quotes to sum up the whole issue: The reason for the International Year of Soil can be found in one paragraph of The Nature and Properties of Soil. Here it states: “The commonplace features of nature are often not well understood or appreciated. For many of us, soil is such a feature. It can be found almost everywhere and has seemingly always been with us. Because of this, the majority of us have never taken the trouble to find out what soil is, where it comes from and what its properties are. We may not have observed how different soil is in one place compared to another. Certainly few of us know the reasons for the differences. George Monbiot, a columnist for The Guardian, states that: “Soil is an almost magical substance, a living system that transforms the materials it encounters, making them available to plants.” So the real question is: Are you going to support the International Year of Soil?