19 April 2015 - 23 April 2015
Berlin, Germany

Global Soil Week 2015

This year’s Global Soil Week will highlight the importance of land and soil to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in this, the UN designated International Year of Soils. 

global soil week logo globalsoilweek.org

global soil week logo globalsoilweek.org

The development of our planet is not sustainable. Natural resources such as soil, water and biodiversity are being handled in a way that undermines the viability of future generations. Today’s world is characterized both by affluence and abundance, and  growing economic and social inequalities. More than 800 million people face chronic hunger, while consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.  We are clearly not on the ‘Road to Dignity’ (Ban Ki-moon), and we are not securing the environmental basis of development that is so desperately needed.

The Global Soil Week 2015 highlights the important role of soils in redirecting these development pathways towards greater sustainability. The management of this non-renewable resource must keep us within our planetary boundaries. Access to fertile soils is pivotal for overcoming poverty and malnutrition, and is a useful indicator of the inclusiveness of development pathways.

IIASA's ESM scientists Michael Obersteiner and Rastislav Skalsky will pitch the topic of "The value of soil information for a more resilient global food system" during the dialogue session on Tuesday, 21 April on "Soil and land information: How to support decision-making?"

Session Description

Soils are fundamental to ensuring water, energy and food security. Within the context of sustainable food production, it is important to share knowledge on existing and emerging technologies that support land and soil monitoring. Technologies, such as remote sensing, mobile soil testing, and digital soil mapping, have the potential to identify degraded and non- /little-responsive soils, and may also provide a basis for program's targeting the protection and rehabilitation of soils. In the absence of such information, crop production assessments are often not based on the spatio-temporal variability in soil characteristics. In addition, uncertainties in soil information systems are notable and build up when predictions are used for monitoring soil properties or biophysical modelling. Consequently, interpretations of model-based results have to be done cautiously. As such they provide a scientific, but not always manageable, basis for farmers and/or policymakers. In general, the key incentives for stakeholders to aim for sustainable management of soils and more resilient food systems are complex at farm as well as higher levels. The same is true of drivers of soil degradation. The decision making process aimed at sustainable soil management, be that at farm or higher level, also involves other goals and objectives valued by stakeholders, e.g. land governance, improved environmental quality, climate change adaptation and mitigation etc. In this dialogue session we will share ideas on recent developments in the discourse on soils, their functions and the role of soil and land information in enhancing food system resilience.

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Last edited: 27 August 2015


Michael Obersteiner

Senior Research Scholar

Ecosystems Services and Management

T +43(0) 2236 807 460

Rastislav Skalsky

Research Scholar

Ecosystems Services and Management

T +43(0) 2236 807 229


Global Soil Week 2015 Brochure


Global Soil Week 2015 Program

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International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313