November 18, 2015

2015 – International Year of Soils

Posted by Laura Guertin


The IYS 2015 aims to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.

The UN General Assembly declared 2015 as the International Year of Soils, with December 5th as World Soil Day! (see website) So… what exactly does this mean, and why have a year and a dedicated day for soil celebrations?

The specific objectives of the IYS 2015 are to:

  • Raise full awareness among civil society and decision makers about the profound importance of soil for human life;
  • Educate the public about the crucial role soil plays in food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and sustainable development;
  • Support effective policies and actions for the sustainable management and protection of soil resources;
  • Promote investment in sustainable soil management activities to develop and maintain healthy soils for different land users and population groups;
  • Strengthen initiatives in connection with the SDG process (Sustainable Development Goals) and Post-2015 agenda;
  • Advocate for rapid capacity enhancement for soil information collection and monitoring at all levels (global, regional and national).

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has set up a playlist of YouTube videos relating to this international celebration, including two videos I embedded at the end of this post useful to show K-12 students and students in introductory-level Earth science courses. Additional resources on the IYS website include a nice set of infographics, soil fact sheets, and educational material for kids ages 5-13.

You still have time to check out the listing and map of events still taking place in 2015.  You can also try your luck at the 15-question quiz on their website on “How much do you know about soils?”

If you are interested, the resolution for World Soil Day and International Year of Soils, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2013, is online and an impressive document that lays out the environmental, economic, and social significance of soil.