Following is UN Secretary‑General Ban Ki‑moon’s message for World Soil Day and the launch of the International Year of Soils, to be observed on 5 December:
Today marks the first observance of World Soil Day and the launch of the International Year of Soils (2015).
Without healthy soils, life on Earth would be unsustainable. Soils are the foundation of agriculture. They provide vital ecosystem services and the basis for food, feed, fuel, fibre and medical products important for human well-being.
Soil is also the largest pool of organic carbon, which is essential for mitigating and adapting to climate change. In an era of water scarcity, soils are fundamental for its appropriate storage and distribution.
However, soil degradation is a rapidly increasing problem in all parts of the world. Some 33 per cent of global soils are already degraded through urbanization. Soil erosion, nutrient depletion, salinity, aridification and contamination are additional threats.
For too long the world has taken soils for granted. But soil is a natural resource that is not easily renewed. Sustainable soil management should be a priority for all.
I welcome the establishment of the Global Soil Partnership by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). FAO’s World Soil Charter recommends a number of key measures to encourage investment in sustainable soil management as a sound and affordable alternative to restoration and rehabilitation.
On World Soil Day, let us pledge to do more to protect this important yet forgotten resource. A healthy life is not possible without healthy soils.