International Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management

The Open Ended Working Group on the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management took place in Rome, at the FAO headquarters from the 11th to the 13th of April.

The Open Ended Working group is one of the steps in the process to prepare the draft of the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management (VGSSM) that will be discussed by governments in May 2016 in the framework of the Global Soil Partnership.

The VGSSM document is based on other two FAO documents on soils developed in 2015 that was the international year of soils. The two main documents are the Revised World Soil Charter and the Status of the World’s Soil Resources, a technical summary developed by the Global Soil Partnership and the Intergovernmental technical panel on soils.

The meeting had around 40 participants, consisting mainly of soil scientists, both independent and government scientists. In addition, the private sector was represented by fertilizer companies and civil society organisations represented by IFOAM - Organics International and the World Farmers Organization (WFO).

Livia Ortolani, IFOAM EU Group Council member, who represented IFOAM - Organics International in the meeting, underlined the need to have a specific focus on preserving and enhancing organic matter in soil.  She also talked about including organic farming as a recommended practice for Sustainable Soil Management.