Why soil plays such an important role in achieving the Global Goals

Our soil scientists at SoilCares (now part of AgroCares) strongly believe in the importance of soil but did you know that soil plays an important role in the global sustainable development goals that the UN set in 2015?

About the Sustainable Development Goals

The concept of sustainable world was first formed in 1987 when the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development released the report Our Common Future. Sustainable development was then defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. However, it has been unclear how to make this idea operational. The acceptance of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 was a crucial step because it translated the idea of sustainability into 17 concrete, measurable goals covering every aspect of life. The 17 Global Goals comprise 169 targets that aim to transform our world by 2030.

Soil plays an important role in several of these goals:

Soil is crucial for goal 2: ending hunger

Sustainable development goal 2, for example, is focused on ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition through promoting sustainable agriculture. Soil is crucial for attaining this goal as it serves as a basis for more than 95% of global food production.

Soil is important for goal 3: good health and well being

Johan Bouma, a Dutch professor in soil science, points out: “Different soils have different fertility level, thus different potential to support food production. The climate and the genetic composition of the crops also play a role in food production but the amount of nutrients and water available for the plant is determined by the soil!”

SDG 3 aims at ensuring healthy lives for all. One of the targets of this goal is particularly focused on reduction of the number of deaths resulted from soil pollution.

Soils plays a major role in goal 13: climate action

Soil also plays a major role in climate change mitigation (SDG 13). Soil is the world’s largest carbon sink and can help reverse climate change through carbon sequestration and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Soil is closely related to goal 15

Some of the Sustainable Development Goals are closely related to soil health, for example SDG 15 which aims at combating desertification and restoring degraded soil. Ensuring enough food resources for the world growing population means we cannot afford to lose more fertile land. Therefore, we have to focus on land restoration and soil rehabilitation.

Read more about the role of soil in sustainable development and SoilCares contribution to a sustainable world in an interview with soil scientist Johan Bouma.

Learn why sustainable soil management is a major step in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals form this video by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.