Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management: Global Action for Healthy Soils


Dec 2017

After the International Year of Soils 2015 and the adoption of the revised World Soil Charter, the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management (VGSSM) were developed by the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) and adopted by FAO and its member countries. The VGSSM follow the rationale that unsustainable management causes soil to lose its critical functions, affected by hazards and threats such as erosion, compaction, and others. The VGSSM have been elaborated by the GSP’s scientific body, the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS). The drafting was then followed by a series of consultation and revision processes, allowing the public, experts, and governments to express their opinions and suggestions. The VGSSM are a stimulus, an overarching framework for action in support of sustainable soil management. This article has also reviewed various recent sustainable agriculture programs that explicitly address soils. These programs are important knowledge providers to the VGSSM implementation process since experiences, tools, and practical guidance can be found there. Despite these efforts, known and recommended practices are still insufficiently applied, partly due to lack of political incentives and investment but also because scientific knowledge about soil management is hardly available to practitioners: soil degradation still continues at high pace globally. The VGSSM are therefore an urgently needed step to build a visible umbrella for action on sustainable soil management and to support and enforce implementation at all levels of the society, however, especially through politicians and farmers.


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December 5, 2017