Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus

Third Global Soil Week (GSW) 2015 - “Soil. The Substance of Transformation”

19-23 April 2015 | Berlin, Germany

Summary Highlights of the Event

ENB Meeting Coverage


Receive our ENB bulletins and reports by email:

Photo Usage Information
Sustainable Development Policy & Practice

Receive emailed updates with the news articles above plus related information and announcements from our LAND-L community mailing list:

Daily Web CoverageAbout | 20 Apr | 21 Apr | 22 Apr | 23 Apr | Summary

Jes Weigelt, Global Soil Forum Coordinator, IASS with Johan Kuylenstierna, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)

IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB+ Meeting Coverage, has produced a summary report of the “Global Soil Week 2015: Soil. The Substance of Transformation.” in HTML and PDF format.

During the last day of Global Soil Conference 2015, participants attended a series of Open Space Format Sessions to deepen discussion on issues that emerged during the previous days.

In the morning, delegates were invited to attend one of eight parallel sessions announced on: Giving living soil a voice: approaches and tools; Sustainable land use and human habitats: the role of cities and rural development in achieving global sustainable land use; Soil quality and agricultural sustainability indicators for the environmental performance index; Sprouting new ideas, rooted in old wisdom: intergenerational dialogue on sustainable land management; Brave farmers, green belts and wrong debates; Discussion on European soil data base update in light of the revision of the Soil Atlas of Europe: examples from Finland and Central European countries; Legal means for the national implementation of sustainable development goals related to soil – with a focus on the objective of a “land degradation neutral world;” and Soil management – it’s about livelihoods.

In the afternoon, additional sessions were held in response to suggestions submitted by participants during the conference on the following issues: The practical rehydration of soils to stop desertification in cool climates; Overcoming and confronting challenges, frontiers, dilemmas; How to motivate people (civil society) to care about soil?; Where are spatial planning approaches in the current soil debate?; and Raising public awareness about contaminated soils- how to get people to care and take action.

Highlights for Thursday, 23 April 2015

Daphne Yin, Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy

Adamtey Noah, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture

Knut Ehlers, Federal Environment Agency (UBA)

Angel Hsu, Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy

Ephraim Nkonya, International Food Policy Research Institute

Rolf Sommer, CIAT

Room view during the plenary session

Lindsay Stringer, University of Leeds

Hannah Steenbergen, Common Soil and Sustainable Food Trust

Noel Oettlé, Drynet Programme

Steffen Schweizer, Germany

Siyabonga Myeza, South Africa Environmental Monitoring Group and Hanspeter Liniger, World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT)

Highlights for Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The third day of Global Soil Week 2015 focused on developing an integrated perspective beyond 2015. In the morning, participants attended dialogue sessions on: experiences and strategies for implementation and monitoring of responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests; tools and approaches to increasing supply-chain sustainability of land-based commodities; soil and land indicators for the international policy agenda: towards joint action; building a knowledge and innovation platform on soil contamination for soil policies; financing soil and land rehabilitation; soil fertility management; nexus governance Post-2015: collaborative implementation; and soil-atmosphere exchange.

At lunchtime, participants attended the opening of the One Hectare exhibition and art installation in the park Gleisdreick – Schöneberger Wiese. The installation includes works from international artists in the form of performances, sculpture, sound installations and videos. To mark the opening, black fabric was unrolled over an area of one hectare by a group of performance artists. The unrolling lasted 20 minutes to symbolize the speed at which soil is being sealed in Germany.

The final plenary convened in the afternoon. Thomas Silberhorn, BMZ, described Germany’s support efforts to reduce land degradation and improve food security through the One World No Hunger Initiative. Alexander Müller, IASS Secretary General, summarized the conference’s main messages including: that sustainable land management can help achieve several SDGs; that soil protection and rehabilitation is about technologies as well as human rights; and the need to implement the SDGs consistently, and take advantage of their transformational potential.

The closing panel discussed how to move forward after Global Soil Week 2015. Theatersport Berlin closed the meeting with an improvised performance creatively capturing key messages emerging from conference.

L-R: Mette Wilkie, UNEP; Maria Krautzberger, Federal Environment Agency (UBA); Hubert Ouédraogo, Land Policy Initiative, UNECA; Alexander Müller, IASS; Gerda Verburg, Chair, Committee on World Food Security (CFS), FAO; and Ursula Schäfer-Preuss, Global Water Partnership

Alexander Müller, IASS

Ursula Schäfer-Preuss,
Global Water Partnership

Mette Wilkie, UNEP

Gerda Verburg, Chair, CFS, FAO

Hubert Ouédraogo, Land Policy Initiative,
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

Maria Krautzberger, UBA

Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Sicily Kanini Kariuki, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Kenya

Hannah Steenbergen, Common Soil and Sustainable Food Trust UK and Siyabonga Myeza, South Africa Environmental Monitoring Group​

Corinna Weber with Klaus Töpfer, IASS

Jazz band performing after the closing of the plenary

Highlights for Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Participants to Global Soil Week 2015 attended dialogue sessions in the morning to discuss: grounding global soil and land initiatives; challenges of doing transdisciplinary research; supporting soil decision making through soil and land information; land rehabilitation for food security; integrating arguments from the economics of land degradation into decision making processes; societal commitment towards healthy soils; cross-national strategies for soil protection and land use; the role of grass and grazing livestock in building resilience to climate change; and celebrating the International Year of Soils.

In the afternoon, participants convened in a plenary session to review the outcomes of the dialogue sessions and discuss an integrated perspective on the post-2015 agenda, including challenges of balancing competing demands placed on scarce soil resources.

In her keynote speech, Sara Scherr, President and CEO, EcoAgriculture Partners, introduced the landscape approach as a way to operationalize integrated management approaches. She stressed the need for a shift towards an approach that achieves multi-stakeholder, multi-objective integrated landscape management. Klaus Deininger, Lead Economist, Development Economics Group, World Bank, provided insights on linking land tenure and land use. He emphasized that interventions often involve risks, underscoring that proper land planning needs an inclusive process and multi-stakeholder approach, as mistakes may be fatal.

A panel of experts reflected on other aspects of managing soils as a non-renewable resource, including integrated land management, the role of human rights as overarching framework, the need to move beyond silos in research and practice, as well as the link between soil management and food security.

Room view during the plenary session

Martial Bernoux,
Science-Policy Interface (SPI) 

Mamadou Abdou Sani, Program Promotion de l'Agriculture Productive, GIZ, Niger

Sara Scherr, CEO, EcoAgriculture Partners

Philip Seufert, FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN)

Moujahed Achouri, FAO

Austin Tibu, Ministry of Agriculture, Water Development and Irrigation, Malawi

L-R: Philip Seufert, FIAN; Moujahed Achouri, FAO; Jes Weigelt, Global Soil Forum Coordinator, IASS;
Austin Tibu
, Ministry of Agriculture, Water Development and Irrigation, Malawi; and Rainer Horn, International Union of Soil Sciences

Maryam Rahmanian,
Centre for Sustainable Development

Klaus Deininger, World Bank

Hans Herren, Biovision Foundation
and Millennium Institute

Maximilian Pock,
Ministry of Environment, Austria

Paul Nathanail,
University of Nottingham, UK

Rainer Horn,
International Union of Soil Sciences

Highlights for Monday, 20 April 2015

The Third Global Soil Week (GSW) 2015 opened on Monday, 20 April, with a screening of Soil Movie 2.0. Klaus Töpfer, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) Executive Director, welcomed participants and underlined that soil is at the center of the transformation needed to address a variety of environmental challenges. Noting that this transformation is a global challenge, he called for visionary target on soils in the context of the sustainable development goals (SDG) process. A panel of experts and practitioners discussed linkages between sustainable soil management and the SDGs, including experiences from Bangladesh, Kenya and the EU, as well as perspectives from the FAO and UNCCD.

A joint IASS-UNEP press conference was held at lunchtime to launch the report “The Role of Biomass in the SDGs: A Reality Check and Governance Implications.” The report assesses the coherence of the SDGs and their targets with regard to soil and biomass. It shows that that projected demand for biomass under the SDGs will exceed the quantities that can be produced with currently available arable land.

In the afternoon, participants convened in eight interactive dialogue sessions to further discuss linkages between soils and the post-2015 agenda, including the following issues: the role of soils for food security and sustainable food systems; the challenge of biomass within the post-2015 development agenda; overriding the urban/non-urban divide in the new urban agenda; mitigation and adaptation to climate change through sustainable land management; linking sustainable land management and the coastal and marine environments; the contribution of land degradation neutrality to climate change mitigation and adaptation; economics of land degradation; and land rehabilitation for food security.

L-R: Pia Bucella, European Commission; Sirajul Islam, Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), Bangladesh; Klaus Töpfer, IASS, Germany; Monique Barbut, UNCCD; Moujahed Achouri, FAO; and Joseph Ole Simel, Mainyoito Pastoralist Integrated Development Organization (MPIDO), Kenya

Moujahed Achouri, FAO

Aroldo Cedraz, Minister,
Federal Court of Accounts, Brazil

Monique Barbut, UNCCD

Johan Kuylenstierna, Stockholm Environment Institute
and Ivonne Lobos Alva, IASS

Ivonne Lobos Alva, IASS with Maren Lönz, Germany

Pia Bucella, European Commission

Klaus Töpfer, IASS

Milkha Aulakh, India

Joseph Ole Simel, MPIDO, Kenya


Sirajul Islam, BRAC, Bangladesh

Steffen Schweizer, Germany

Opening of ONE HECTARE Installation

Funding for coverage of GSW 2015 has been provided by IASS Potsdam, GIZ, and BMZ
Daily Web CoverageAbout | 20 Apr | 21 Apr | 22 Apr | 23 Apr | Summary