World Soil Day, and the launch of the 2015 International Year of Soils, is just around the corner, on Dec. 5. Numerous key events related to soils are already taking place around the globe.

Advocacy, awareness raising, and education are at the core of this International Year with theme “Healthy soils for a healthy life”. The year aims to increase knowledge and understanding about the importance of soil for food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development.

The Permanent Representation of Thailand to FAO was elected to Chair the International Year of Soils (IYS) Steering Committee today during the first IYS Steering Committee meeting held at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Headquarters. The World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) is part of the Steering Committee representing the world’s farmers and supporting awareness raising among civil society and decision-makers about the profound importance of soil for human life.

The main focus of the IYS Steering Committee first meeting was to establish a Steering Committee and to elect a Chair. Other key points on today’s agenda included discussion of the IYS plan of action, which was endorsed in July 2014 and is meant to be of “guiding nature”. Discussions moved onto the IYS launch event, which is set to coincide with the first official World Soil Day on 5 December 2014, coupled with concurrent events at FAO Headquarters in Rome and in Bangkok.

The IYS Secretariat illustrated communication tools that will facilitate the implementation of IYS at the global, regional, and national levels. An IYS logo has been created, and can be attained – with guidelines of use – from the IYS website along with other supportive communication materials.

The Steering Committee reported on the establishment of the World Soil Prize, which should be of highly symbolic significance, aiming to recognise and reward the good work performed by individuals in the conservation and sound management of soil resources. This prize is to be institutionalised through the Global Soil Partnership Plenary Assembly, and it is proposed to be placed under the patronage of the Thai Royal Family.

The meeting closed with discussions about resource mobilisation for IYS. FAO has been nominated to implement the IYS 2015, within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and in collaboration with Governments and the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).