The Sustainable Development Goals highlight the importance of soil resources. Soil is a core component of land resources and the foundation of agricultural development and ecological sustainability. It is the basis for food, feed, fuel and fibre production and for many critical ecological services. Soil is a complex, dynamic living system and its suitability varies from place to place. The area of productive soil is limited and is under increasing pressure of intensification and competing uses for cropping, forestry and pasture/rangeland, and to satisfy demands of the growing population for food and energy production, raw materials extraction, and so forth. Sustainable management of the world’s agricultural soils and sustainable production intensification have also become an imperative for global food security. As such, promoting the sustainability of soil resources are placed on the apex of any development agenda. There are well- recognized links between soils and poverty, which are often associated with socio-economic and governance issues.
NAM vying to promote sustainable development of soil resources has recognized the need to promote the sustainability of soil resources in the developing nations. NAM has welcomed the UN General Assembly’s adoption of Resolution 68/232 which recognizes the economic and social significance of good land management, including soil, particularly its contribution to economic growth, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and food security, eradicating poverty, women’s empowerment, addressing climate change and improving water availability. NAM recognizes the urgent need, at all levels, to raise awareness and to promote sustainability of the limited soil resources, using the best available scientific information and building on all dimensions of sustainable development.
NAM Member States actively celebrate the World Soil Day on December 5. The World Soil Day was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to raise awareness about the importance of soil quality for food security, healthy ecosystems and human well-being. The World Soil Day promotes strategies for sustainable use of soil, which is a limited non-renewable natural resource, essential to human livelihoods as the food is grown from it.
In a number of NAM Member States, both the states and non-states actor have been undertaking measures to promote soil sustainability. India has been distributing the Soil Health Cards (SHC) to provide information about the Soil Health to 120 million farm holdings in the country. SHC informs farmers about nutrients status of the soils along with the recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to improve soil health and fertility. A farm will get the soil card once in every 2 years so that nutrients deficiency can be regularly detected and improved. in the first phase (2015-17) 100 million SHCs have been distributed so far. The aim of the Ministry is to provide SHC to all 120 million farm holdings by December 2017. The second phase began in 2017, and will continue for the period 2017 to 2019.
To promote soil sustainability, Uganda has launched a new Green Growth strategy. The strategy serves as the blue print towards a socially and economically inclusive development pathway for Uganda. Green growth is described as an inclusive, low emissions economic growth process that emphasizes effective and efficient use of the country’s natural, human, and physical capital while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide for present and future generations. Sustainable agriculture with concentration on solar powered irrigation, integrated soil fertility management and upgrade of value chains is an important element of the Green growth strategy.
Among a number of African nations, The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) is a continent-wide effort to bring 100 million hectares of deforested and degraded landscapes into restoration by 2030.
AFR100 uses a Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) approach to implement practices that restore an agreed balance of ecological, social, and economic benefits of forests and trees.
Through forest restoration, AFR100 aims to build resilient African landscapes that reduce desertification, improve soil fertility, and enhance agricultural productivity and food security. Twenty-two participating countries have already committed to restoring more than 75 million hectares.