Global Compact Participants Champion Global Soils
New York, USA, 5 December 2014 – On World Soil Day and on the launch of 2015 as the International Year of Soils (IYS), participants in the United Nations Global Compact, focused on the sustainability of global soils, declared their support to the International Year. Building on the Global Compact’s Food and Agriculture (FAB) Principles, companies that are signatories to the Global Compact worked with global soil experts to develop a guidance document, the Soil Principles, on how businesses in agriculture can support better soil management.
"Soil is a highly contested issue, it is largely misunderstood as a critical resource, and its quality tends to be taken for granted” says Chris Lambe, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Agriculture and Food Security Centre of The Earth Institute at Columbia University. In meetings convened over the course of this year in New York, Bonn, Singapore and Nairobi by the Global Compact and others such as the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and the UN Environment Programme, experts noted how soils have extensive linkages to a wide array of global issues. They affirm that business should contribute to mapping soil as a scarce resource and fully integrate soil management in both practices and policies for sustainable agriculture and food security.
Charlotte Hebebrand, Director General of the International Fertilizer Industry Association (a Global Compact signatory and member of the Global Soil Partnership), congratulated the United Nations for the IYS initiative and reiterated the importance of soils for food security at a recent meeting for the launch of the International Year of Soils in Rome at the FAO. "Soils need more care and attention. They are crucial to meet the challenge of feeding a growing population. IFA and its members are providing key inputs to the Global Compact process to ensure that business can contribute meaningfully to the global agenda on soil management” Hebebrand added.
The Global Compact process has identified four frames on how to understand soil management: (1) the need to maintain, prevent damage to, and protect soil; (2) the importance of building, restoring and enhancing soil; (3) methods to enhance soil productivity and efficiency; and (4) identifying solutions and actions for strengthening soil.
In addition to issues directly related to soil as an asset and resource, the business guidance to be finalized by early 2015 will consider soil-based ecosystem services, water, knowledge systems and innovation, rights to land and sustainable livelihoods. This approach to soil management reflects the alignment of Global Compact businesses to forthcoming UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on food, agriculture and nutrition.
“The Global Compact’s FAB Principles are a channel for action on soil by businesses who are concerned about soil as being fundamental to our sustenance and lives. The private sector can compliment the efforts of government. Solid science, metrics and measures exist on what we can do to save our soils for future generations - we need to act together now” urges Pedro Sanchez, Director, Agriculture and Food Security Center of the Earth Institute, Columbia University.
Ms. Morgane Danielou, Director - Communications & Public Affairs
International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA)
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