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Symposium 2014

Background Paper - Fertile Soils - Fundamental in the Struggle against Hunger and Climate Change

The Challenge

From a human live perspective soil is not a renewable resource. It takes hundreds of years for just a few centimeters of lost soil to renew itself. Healthy soil provides plants with nutrients and wa ...

From a human live perspective soil is not a renewable resource. It takes hundreds of years for just a few centimeters of lost soil to renew itself. Healthy soil provides plants with nutrients and water. Healthy soils are the basis for achieving food security around the world. But instead of respecting the vital role of fertile soil for global food security, decision makers often underestimate the importance of healthy soils. Soil is finite. Degradation processes such as erosion or desertification are causing the worldwide agriculture area to diminish.

When experts, politicians and stakeholders discuss global challenges such as achieving food security and combatting climate change, they fail to consider one of the most vital resources of all: soils. And no wonder - the multiple functions of soil are not exactly obvious at first glance. And: It takes hundreds of years for a few centimeters of lost soil to renew itself. Despite the enormous losses involved, soil degradation often occurs so slowly that it takes more than a single human lifetime for its effects to become noticeable. It is high time for rethinking and urgent acting! Protection of soils has to be a political goal as much as the fight against hunger and protection of the climate.