World Soil Day (WSD) which is marked on December 5, was designated by the UN General Assembly in 2013 to spotlight the critical role of soil in human survival.
It aims to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining healthy soils and advocating for sustainable soil management as a paramount Earth resource.
The 2023 theme, “Soil and Water: A Source of Life,” closely follows World Food Day’s call for water conservation.
Essential to sustaining life on Earth, soil and water serve as the bedrock for food production, ecosystems, and overall human well-being. These fundamental elements nurture plants, forming the backbone of the planet’s primary productivity. However, approximately 90 per cent of global food systems rely on soil and water, underlining their indispensable role.
Despite their significance, both soil and water face continuous threats from human activities. Compaction, overstocking in arid and semi-arid regions, soil erosion, deforestation for agricultural expansion, synthetic chemical use, monocropping, oil spillages, and inadequate waste management practices all contribute to the degradation of these vital resources.
To counteract these threats, it is imperative to adopt sustainable practices such as conservation agriculture, permaculture, regenerative agriculture, and ecological organic agriculture. These practices not only ensure the health of soil and water but also align with climate-smart principles.
Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s prediction about water scarcity leading to conflicts remains relevant today, particularly in regions like the Gulf.
Access to clean and safe water remains limited in Africa, necessitating comprehensive measures by governments, non-state actors, industries, and policy drivers to address water misuse and enhance accessibility.
In the era of heightened climate awareness, soil and water management practices must adapt to climate change challenges. Nutrient-rich soils can act as carbon sinks, mitigating atmospheric carbon, and enhancing resilience against erosion caused by runoff, wind, and flooding.
In essence, integrated soil and water management practices not only provide crucial ecosystem services but also support life on Earth, making them indispensable components of global sustainability efforts.