The IASS discussed together with global players in the soil, land and sustainability governance communities on Friday, October 24, 2014, about how to effectively address the role of soils and land in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The workshop hosted by the IASS Global Soil Forum, “Soil Functions and Ecosystem Services in the Sustainable Development Goals: supporting the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and the fight against poverty, hunger and climate change” was attended by Global Soil Week Partners including the European Commission, the German Federal Environment Agency, and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. New to the working group, which has been working on SDG agenda setting since the first Global Soil Week in 2012, are the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), as well as political advocacy experts and civil society representatives who are actively involved in the SDG process in New York. The group´s objective is the integration of key soil functions and land aspects in the Post-2015 development agenda and the SDG. The discussion also contributed to the joint development of a dedicated workshop at the Global Soil Week in April 2015 in Berlin.

The group reviewed the current role played by soil and land in the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as per the outcome document of the Open Working Group which was created to advance the process to develop the SDGs, and published on 19 July 2014. The final set of Sustainable Development Goals is expected to be adopted in the fall of 2015 at the United Nations General Assembly. The 17 potential SDGs and accompanying targets cover areas such as poverty, food, equality, water, energy, and climate change. Soils are addressed directly for instance in targets under goal 2 on food security and sustainable agriculture, where the need to progressively improve land and soil quality for sustainable food production systems is highlighted. A target under goal 15 on terrestrial ecosystems addresses the need to combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil and strive to achieve a land-degradation neutral world. At the same time, ecosystem services provided by soils will be needed to achieve several of the targets across the different goals, for example on the conservation of forests, climate change mitigation, and ensuring access to productive land, etc.

It is crucial to ensure that the SDGs are developed in a way that empowers and supports countries to address the issue of soil and land degradation for sustainable development.


Ivonne Lobos Alva
Global Soil Forum
Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS)

Phone: +49 331 28822 431