Session 19: Policy actions to implement the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management and prevent and minimize soil contamination


Ms. Lucrezia Caon, Global Soil Partnership (GSP) Secretariat, FAO,

Mr. Luca Montanarella, Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, JRC-EC,

Mr. Ronald Vargas, Global Soil Partnership (GSP) Secretariat, FAO,


The Status of the World Soil Resources (SWSR) report (FAO and ITPS, 2015) stressed the need for establishing effective policies on soil in order to halt soil degradation processes and ensure sustainable development. Up to date, policy formulation in soil has been weak in most parts of the world because of (a) the lack of access to the evidences needed for policy action, (b) the challenge of dealing with property rights (land tenure), (c) the long-time scales involved in soil change, and (d) the progressive disconnection between our urbanized society and the soil. International agreements on soil and land resources such as the endorsement of the Revised World Soil Charter (FAO, 2015) and the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management (FAO, 2016) are helpful but they are all to no avail unless there are complementary policies and coordinated activities at national, district and local levels.

Appropriate and effective policies require to apply general approved scientific concepts and criteria to the local context so to set up locally appropriated benchmarks in terms of the natural resources issues, cultural acceptability and economic feasibility. This would allow to monitor the achievement of the targets and address malfunctions in the system due to, for instance, the lack of either education or technical knowledge. The recognition that soil resources are a cross-cutting issue and may originate conflicts among land users when mismanaged, is also needed to receive sufficient policy support.

It is the purpose of this session to discuss the implementation of the Revised Soil Charter and the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management (VGSSM) in national and local policy systems, and how this connects to the need for establishing thresholds on soil degradation and indicators of soil quality. To this end, the session links the implementation of the VGSSM to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, paying attention especially to one of the main soil threats identified in the SWSR, soil contamination. In this context, the session will have a follow up at the Global Symposium on Soil Contamination and Pollution, which will be held at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome in April 2018.


Opening by the keynote speakers: Mr. Luca Montanarella (ITPS Chair) and Ms. Lucrezia Caon (GSP Secretariat), Presentation of a few selected posters, Panel discussion, Conclusions

In parallel: Poster session