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Sustainable Development Policy & Practice
First Global Soil Week

18-22 November 2012 | Berlin, Germany

First Global Soil Week
First Global Soil Week

The first Global Soil Week gathered over 400 representatives of governments, scientists, international organizations, business and civil society in Berlin, Germany, from 18-22 November 2012, to consider the theme “Soils for Life.” The event took place within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and served as a platform to initiate follow up on the land and soil-related decisions in the outcome from the June 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). It was organized by the Global Soil Forum, which was established by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) Potsdam.

The first Global Soil Week commenced with a film festival open to the public and a reception on 18 November 2012. From 19-21 November, participants convened in plenary, platform and dialogue sessions to consider topics related to an integrative perspective on soils, lessons learned in addressing challenges to soils, and a number of thematic topics. A wrap-up session on Wednesday afternoon, 21 November, reviewed Chair Klaus Töpfer’s conclusions and an Outcome Paper and discussed plans for the future.

The Chairman’s Conclusions suggest that responding to the challenges identified and discussed during Global Soil Week requires urgent and consolidated action in: strengthening science and technology; capacity building; partnerships for change; and soil awareness-raising. To accomplish this, the following steps were proposed: facilitating the science-policy-public interface; making the Global Soil Week a continuous process; and developing an agenda for action that may focus on multi-level governance for zero net land and soil degradation, sustainable land and soil management, and communication for change. The Outcome Paper indicates that the goal of a land degradation neutral world needs to be made operational and implemented, and that, therefore, a zero net land and soil degradation target is called for. It suggests that soil policy should form part of global endeavors towards food security, embedded in a sustainable development goal on food security that emphasizes the link between development and environment. Among other issues, the paper also notes that a strategic partnership needs to build on an interdisciplinary approach, and that the first Global Soil Week was the beginning of a process.

On Thursday, 22 November, participants convened in four working groups to discuss next steps for Global Soil Week, related to the following themes: the soil and water nexus for sustainable livelihoods; natural resource governance, securing the commons and voluntary guidelines; urbanization; and global land and soil degradation, and global soil policy.
A view of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (photo courtesy of the Government of Germany.)
A view of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (photo courtesy of the Government of Germany.)
A view of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (photo courtesy of the Government of Germany.)
Participants at the first Global Soil Week posed for a photo outside the Scandic Hotel. Photo credit: Agentur StandArt
A view of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (photo courtesy of the Government of Germany.)

Participants in the closing plenary (L-R): Jes Weigelt, Project Leader, Global Soil Forum, IASS; Henry Tachie-Menson, Ghana Permanent Mission to the UN; Manfred Konukiewitz, BMZ; Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Advisor, EC; Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary, UNCCD; Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director, IASS; Pia Bucella, Director, Nature, Biodiversity and Land Use, EC; Ronald Vargas, Global Soil Partnership; and Molly Jahn, University of Madison, US. Photo credit: Agentur StandArt

A view of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (photo courtesy of the Government of Germany.)
Star chef Sarah Wiener, with some help from Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director, IASS, prepared the Global Soil Week Dinner and soil-smart cooking event “Cook it Green!” on 20 November. Photo credit: Agentur StandArt
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*IISD RS coverage of the Tenth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), 10-21 October 2011, Changwon, Republic of Korea
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