World Soil Day

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Topics Covered:

  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

World Soil Day

 

What to study?

  • For Prelims: World Soil Day 2018- key facts.
  • For Mains: Soil pollution- reasons, concerns, challenges and measures.

 

Context: World Soil Day is celebrated every year on 5th of December by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations.

Aim: To communicate messages on importance of soil quality for food security, healthy ecosystems and human well-being.

Theme for year 2018: ‘Be the Solution to Soil Pollution’.

 

Historical background of World Soil Day:

An international day to celebrate Soil was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002. Under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, FAO has supported the formal establishment of WSD as a global awareness raising platform.

The FAO Conference unanimously endorsed World Soil Day  in June 2013 and requested its official adoption at the 68th UN General Assembly. In December 2013 the UN General Assembly responded by designating 5 December 2014 as the first official World Soil Day.

 

Why December 5 was chosen?

The date of 5 December for WSD was chosen because it corresponds with the official birthday of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, who officially sanctioned the event.

 

Soil pollution- concerns:

  • These days pollution is a worry – and soil is also affected. Soil pollution is a hidden danger that lurks beneath our feet.
  • 1/3 of our global soils are already degraded. Yet we risk losing more due to this hidden danger. Soil pollution can be invisible and seems far away but everyone, everywhere is affected.
  • With a growing population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, soil pollution is a worldwide problem which degrades our soils, poisons the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. The entity of the problem is still unknown as not certain data are available on a global scale.
  • Soils have a great potential to filter and buffer contaminants, degrading and attenuating the negative effects of pollutants, but this capacity is finite. Most of the pollutants originate from human activities, such as unsustainable farming practices, industrial activities and mining, untreated urban waste and other non-environmental friendly practices.
  • As technology evolves, scientists are able to identify previously undetected pollutants, but at the same time these technological improvements lead to new contaminants being released into the environment.

 

SDGs:

In the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals 2, 3, 12, and 15 have targets which commend direct consideration of soil resources, especially soil pollution and degradation in relation to food security.

 

Need for conservation and protection of soil:

  • Soil holds three times as much carbon as the atmosphere and can help us meet the challenges of a changing climate.
  • 815 million people are food insecure and 2 billion people are nutritionally insecure, but we can mitigate this through soil.
  • 95% of our food comes from soil.
  • 33% of our global soils are already degraded.

 

Way ahead:

According to the FAO, it is vital to tackle soil pollution to reduce the risk of food security and human health. By preventing soil pollution, we can also address soil degradation, adapt to climate change and stem rural migration.

 

Sources: the hindu.

 

Mains Question: Examine why and how soils can serve as a sink for carbon dioxide? Discuss why ability of soils to sequester carbon as a win-win strategy must be recognised by policymakers