Key topics

The Storyline of the Second Global Soil Week 2013 “Losing Ground?”

The Global Soil Week is your platform…
The Global Soil Week is your platform! It is the place where people from around the world meet – for instance: a soil scientist from Russia, a farmer from Germany, a politician from Malawi, an activist from India, a sociologist from Brazil, a businessman from South Africa. We all – scientists across disciplines and multiple decision-makers from politics, business and civil society – have something in common: We care about land and soils, we want to exchange our knowledge and experiences, and we want to act now and together!

You know best from your experience and expertise what works and what needs to be improved in order to achieve a sustainable management of soils and responsible governance of land. Your input and commitment is needed so that we can all jointly find ways to stop losing ground.

…to stop losing ground
We cannot afford to overlook soils. They are crucial to achieve water, food and energy security. The Global Soil Week 2012 highlighted the massive loss of soil worldwide through water and wind erosion – 24 billion tons per year. At the same time, many people, often marginalized groups, lose ground due to insecure land use rights.

…and to act in a holistic manner!
Losing ground is an effect of multiple influences. It cannot be understood and managed in silos. We have to think and act in an integrated manner considering the interactions of soils with other natural resources and social systems at multiple levels. This so-called Nexus approach is at the heart of the programme of the Global Soil Week where people with different backgrounds and knowledge gather in an open and fruitful atmosphere to create pathways to societal change.

The navigation through the Global Soil Week

The Global Soil Week 2013 offers time and space to exchange and engage in debates in different formats – Dialogue Sessions, Plenary Sessions, The Agenda for Action, Open Space Workshops and an Action Forum.

These different formats are applied to three different focus areas – one focus per day. Four thematic threads feature throughout all three focus areas with different Dialogue Sessions.

One day – one focus

On Monday, Focus I, we want to Understand the role of soils in the nexus of water, food and energy security and with other natural resources. What does “losing ground” imply for this nexus?

On Tuesday, Focus II, we want to discuss how to better Manage this nexus. What approaches and strategies ensure the sustainable use of soils and land in order to achieve water, energy and food security?

On Wednesday, Focus III, we want to discuss and identify how to Create pathways towards sustainable soil management and responsible land governance. Which triggers for change can we identify and pursue?

On Thursday, we want to roll up our sleeves and deepen the debates on crucial ways forward.

One focus – four thematic threads

The Dialogue Sessions within each of the three focus areas are grouped according to the four thematic threads: “Material Cycles”, “Sustainable Land Management & Soil Engineering”, “International Soil Policy & Sustainable Development Goals” and “Responsible Land Governance”.

Bringing discussions together – From Dialogue to Plenary Sessions

After each round of Dialogue Sessions (one per focus-day), we all gather in the plenary to exchange the salient points of the Dialogue Sessions and discuss them against the focus of the day as outlined above. Thread Ambassadors provide insights on and reflect according to their own expertise and experiences on the outcomes of the Dialogue Sessions within his/her respective thematic thread. Every thematic thread of each focus area has a designated ambassador. The Thread Ambassadors hence link the discussions to the plenary in a bottom-up manner fostering interaction across communities of thinking and practice. Distinguished panelists contribute to the discussion with valuable reflections on the issues against their respective disciplinary, cultural and professional background.

Jumpstart our creativity and discussions – The Kick-off Event

The Global Soil Week 2013 is officially opened on Monday morning. Creative performances introduce us in a very different way to “Losing Ground?” and distinguished speakers jump-start our discussions. They share their perspectives on what losing ground means for our world and why we need to care about soils in the nexus.

Plenaries “Touching Ground” and “Review”

After an inspiring Kick-off Event, we “touch ground”: Panelists from different world regions describe how land degradation affects people’s livelihoods and explain what we can do about it.

On Tuesday, a “Review Panel” reviews the core outcomes of the discussions thus far, connects them to concrete examples from different world regions and points to critical issues that need to be pursued in order to arrive at strategies for change.

Plenary “Ways Forward”

On Wednesday, distinguished speakers reflect on the outcomes of the discussions at the Global Soil Week and propose ways forward in order to “not lose ground”. The Agenda for Action will serve as a reference point.

The Agenda for Action

The Global Soil Week is a platform and a process. The Week itself offers a multi-stakeholder platform to collaboratively develop ideas and organize activities. It also provides a process for partners and participants to follow up on the ideas developed during the Global Soil Week. Last year, at the First Global Soil Week 2012, first joint activities have been initiated that showcase the need for a continued and open process to address the identified challenges. The Second Global Soil Week 2013 builds on the 2012 outcomes, strengthens the initiated activities, deepens the debates and offers space for new developments.

In 2012, partners of the Global Soil Week agreed to develop an Agenda for Action to outline the process for the years to come. This draft Agenda for Action is available online for comments (, a hardcopy forms part of your Global Soil Week kit. After the Global Soil Week 2013, partners of the Global Soil Week will reflect on those comments and elaborate the Agenda for Action. Get in touch with us, if you would like to contribute activities in the framework of the Agenda for Action. We would be glad to jointly explore this opportunity with you.

“Open Space Workshops”

On the final day of the Global Soil Week, we have the opportunity to use the open space and time to deepen our debates, to substantiate our planned activities and to strengthen our partnerships. Make use of this opportunity and contribute your ideas on how to arrive at a land degradation neutral world.

Action Forum

During the lunch breaks, you can grab a coffee or tea and participate in the Action Forum. This forum provides a creative space to explore and reflect on losing ground “using our five senses”. Special guests will take us on a journey of the senses and ignite our creative thinking!