Soil health critical in attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Soil is perhaps the most critical natural  resource for SDGs

By Ben Moses Ilakut

Soil  health is the starting point for healthy and environmentally sustainable food systems—Doubtless therefore, healthy soils are vital to addressing wide-ranging global challenges from food insecurity to climate change, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) new report on the state of knowledge on soil biodiversity.

Within this realization, a conference dubbed One Earth Soil and Root Health Forum has been organised by leading African and Global partners on March 31, 2021 to discuss the entrenchment of sustainability and resilience into food systems at the early stages.

Organisers of Forum

The Forum will focus on the global topic of soil and plant root health and its importance in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “Given that around 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land is located in Africa, the event will have an Africa focus,” the vent organizers have said. The #OneEarthForum is organised by African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA), the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Rizobacter, Syngenta, Syngenta Foundation, Solidaridad, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Agventure, and Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) #ASARECAforSoilHealth.

“It is deeply informed by the knowledge that the health of the earth’s soil plays a key role in its ability to store carbon, to preserve soil resources and to promote bio-diversity. Healthier soils mean soil being able to better store carbon, helping to tackle climate change. Healthier roots mean being able to produce more and healthier food for our growing global populations,” say the organizers.

Soil means everything

In a statement ahead of the Forum, ASARECA Executive Director, Prof. Jean Jacques Mbonigaba Muhinda said: “Soil health means everything to humanity! It is everything because in real terms soil is the natural capital given to mankind to produce a chain of direct and indirect benefits for today and the future. Therefore, investments directed at enhancing the ability of soils to store carbon, preserve the diverse soil resources, produce health products, and produce food for the growing global populations and other species, directly translate to the attainment of long-term economic productivity and welfare of our societies.

UN Report confirms place of soil

The Forum comes as the UN just released a report just confirms that Soil biodiversity is at the centre of achieving many of the SDGs, but its contribution remains largely underestimated. According to the Report, while none of the SDGs directly refers to soil, many of them, such as food security, water scarcity, climate change, biodiversity loss and health threats are closely linked to or dependent on soil biodiversity. “Soil biodiversity represents [over] 25 per cent of the total biodiversity of the planet, yet we know only about one per cent of it, ” the report reveals.

The report attempts to place soil biodiversity at the heart of international policy frameworks, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Soil biodiversity and ecosystem services will be pivotal for the success of the recently declared United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021–2030).

The report includes inputs from over 300 scientists from around the world and defines soil biodiversity as the variety of life below ground, from genes and species to the communities they form, as well as the ecological complexes to which they contribute and to which they belong.

 It will feature at the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).


Date Published: 
Friday, 26 February 2021