The Global Soil Week (GSW) brings together a diverse range of actors to initiate and strengthen policies and actions on sustainable soil management and responsible land governance. Since its beginning in 2012, the focus and design of the GSW has continuously evolved in order to respond to and shape ongoing policy debates and land management programming. The first GSW supported dialogues around the need to secure the topic of soil on the political agenda. As the United Nations dedicated the year 2015 to soils and adopted the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the GSW 2017 focused on supporting reviews of the SDGs at the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) from the perspective of soil health and land governance. After requests from partner countries for a regional event, the African Soil Seminar was held in Nairobi in 2016 with the governments of Kenya, Ethiopia, Benin, and Burkina Faso as co-hosts. Building on the experience and outcomes of previous GSWs, the GSW 2019 will focus on creating enabling environments for land degradation neutrality in Africa.
Growing populations, increasing urbanization, poverty and unsustainable production and consumption patterns are among the strongest drivers of an alarming increase in rates of terrestrial resource degradation which compromises the provision of soil ecosystem services such as water storage, carbon sequestration and soil productivity. This negatively affects the capacity to respond to development challenges like climate change adaptation, poverty eradication and food security. Although global initiatives and programmes have incrementally responded to the challenge of land degradation (e.g. the Bonn Challenge, the Agenda 2030, the African Union’s Malabo Declaration on Agriculture and Agenda 2063), increased effectiveness on the ground is required to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN).