- Lead-organizer: Biovision ? Foundation for ecological Development
- 13:30 - 15:00
- Date: 18 Jun 2012
- Room: T-2
Fertile Soil for our Future: nourish our people - nurture our planet
Organizing partnersSubmitting party: Biovision ? Foundation for ecological Development, Switzerland
- Switzerland, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
- Germany, German Federal Environment Agency (UBA)
- BioEconomy Africa, Ethiopia
- Millennium Institute, U.S.
IntroductionSoils are the basis for life on earth. They ensure food, water, fibre, bioenergy production for present and future generations and play a crucial role in adaptation and mitigation strategies for climate change. However, soils have been taken for granted for too long. Over the last decades they have been degraded by mismanagement, jeopardizing this essential finite natural resource and its ecosystem services. Nowadays, land degradation directly affects 1.5 billion people. They include 74% of the poor in the world, therefore soil conservation has a very direct link to poverty eradication. At this event the relevance of soils will be presented in a vivid and intuitive way. First-hand insights from Ethiopia will be provided that show to delegates and the media that fertile soils are the basis for an economically, ecologically and socially sustainable development.
Detailed programmeThe world is facing an unprecedented challenge of providing sufficient high quality food to nourish a global population that will peak at more than 9 billion by 2050. This is exacerbated by several factors, including climate change, resource depletion, loss of biological diversity, growing food insecurity, nutrition deficiency, marginalization of smallholder farmers, the diminishing area of agricultural land, desertification, degradation and drought.
The need for improving the environmental and social performance of agriculture is underscored by the accelerating depletion of non-renewable resources; the overutilization of renewable resources (e.g. agriculture uses 70% of all freshwater withdrawals) and their regenerative capacity; the annual generation of more than a third of the planet?s global greenhouse gas emissions; the widening gap between the Millennium Development Goals on hunger and poverty and the actual hunger and poverty situation; the inefficient use of crops as feed and biofuels; and the enormous inefficiencies in food use as post-harvest food losses and waste along the entire food chain account for at least one-third of all the food produced in the world.
In this context we tend to forget that soils are the basis for life on earth and that food, feed, fibre and bioenergy production as well as the entire terrestrial biodiversity directly depend on them. They are medium of plant growth, sources of terrestrial net primary production, reservoirs of gene pools, moderators of climate, sinks of atmospheric carbon, reservoirs of plant nutrients and cycling, and providers of clean water. Furthermore soil is a none-renewable resource ? at least in regard to time spans relevant for humans; it takes centuries to replace one inch of topsoil lost to erosion. Nevertheless, we keep on losing fertile soils. Approximately one third of the world?s cropland is already affected by degradation and according to UN-estimations each year an additional 12 million hectares become man made desert. The loss of soil fertility causes enormous environmental, social and economical constraints. About 1.5 billion people depend directly upon land that is being degraded. In Africa the loss of soil fertility is responsible for an estimated mean yield loss of around 8.2% for the entire continent. In a nutshell: The world has continued building towards a ?soil peak? which will have far-worse consequences than the current ?oil peak?.
The demand for productive land is high and competition over land use is intense. Recent food crises did not happen accidentally and are not over. In an increasingly interdependent world, land and soil-related crises are ever more likely to mutate into new global crises. Africa is going to be the region which is likely to be most seriously affected by such a crisis. At the same time it is also a region with a huge potential to contribute to a sustainable solution.
In this regard, the thematic focus of this event is in presenting a vivid and positive example from Ethiopia, on how sustainable soil management can contribute to an economically, ecologically and socially sustainable development. The example, presented by people involved in the respective project in Ethiopia, will furthermore show that feasible solutions to assure that soils are used, managed and restored sustainably are available. They are an indispensable element in the needed transformation of our global agricultural and food system.
POSSIBLE CONTRIBUTION TO RIO+20
Soil and desertification are part of the ongoing negotiations on the outcome document of Rio+20. While substantial work has already been done, there is still a need to increase public and political awareness on issues of sustainable soil management at Rio+20 and beyond. In this regard, the event envisages two possible contributions. On the one hand, demonstration and exchange of available solutions to end land degradation, and restore soil fertility. On the other hand, increased awareness, fruitful discussions and a last stimulus for a meaningful and successful outcome with regards to soil, and the interconnected issues such as food, water and energy.
DEMONSTRATON AND INSIGHTS FROM THE FIELD
Presentation of the “Habitat Restoration” Project in Addis Abeba:
Selamawit Aseffa, Director, BioEconomy Africa; Mariam W. Ehite, President, Gurara Women’s Association.
Short film sequence on the project, directed by Jan van den Berg.
THEMATIC INPUTS FOLLOWED BY A DISCUSSION
Restoring soil fertility through sustainable agriculture: Hans R. Herren, Laureate of the World Food Prize, President, Biovision and the Millennium Institute
Fertile soils to mitigate and adapt to Climate Change: Speaker is to be confirmed.
Relevance of fertile land for Food Security: Speaker is to be confirmed.
Connecting the Dots: Soil – a cross cutting issue with the need for coordinated
global action: Jochen Flasbarth, President, German Federal Environment Agency
Closing remarks by Hans Hurni, President of the Centre for Development and Environment, University of Berne
Discussion with participants and the Media (30 Minutes)