Soil Scientist Kome Represents USDA NRCS at the 11th Plenary Assembly of the Global Soil Partnership in Rome, Italy
Since its creation, the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) has become an important partnership where global soil issues are discussed and addressed by multiple stakeholders. Key outputs demonstrate that the partnership was needed to fill an existing gap in the promotion of sustainable soil management globally. It was a great honor and privileged for Kome to attend the 11th Plenary Assembly of the GSP in Rome July 12-14, 2023 as Rapporteur. The North American Node of the GSP includes the US and Canada. The US delegation consisted of: Dr. Jeff Herrick, USDA/ARS; Dr. Jerry Glover, USAID; Dr. Charles Kome, USDA/NRCS; Sean Cox, Agricultural Attaché, Alternate Permanent Representative, U.S. Mission to the UN in Rome; and Dr. Axel Schmidt, Catholic Relief Services. Canada was represented by Bob Turnock, Senior Science Advisor, International Science Partnerships Science and Technology Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and delegation of Senators on the Agriculture Committee, including Senator Robert Black and Senator Victor Ho.
In his opening remarks, the FAO Director-General stated that “Soil is the mother of agriculture and the mother of life.” He commended the GSP for their outstanding work and encouraged all to redouble their efforts to feed a growing world population in a sustainable manner, including climate change mitigation. The assembly featured eight opening remarks followed by the several keynote speeches by technical experts and political leaders from across the globe. These remarks were followed by a video on the Soil Atlas of Asia. There were about 24 authoritative presentations on progress achieved at the national or regional level addressing major drivers of soil degradation, types of soil degradation, consequences of soil degradation and possible solutions to soil degradation using cost effective innovative solutions, indigenous knowledge and lessons learned over the years.
The assembly deliberated on key threats to soils, ranging from soil erosion, nutrient management, salinity issues, and set an agenda for improving soil health in the years ahead. The packed agenda offered platforms for the exchange of ideas and opportunities for future collaboration to harmonize soil assessment methodologies to improve soil health for a healthy planet and healthy people. Some deliberations focused on technical, financial and managerial challenges impeding planned implementation of its outlined mission and vision and how these could be improved. While some regions are way ahead of their targets, others are lagging behind. Over a three-day period, this event brought together 175 delegates, 120 GSP partners and soil-related stakeholders, and 412 online participants.
Among the many resolutions taken, the next Vice Chair of the GSP will be from the US. The GSP Secretariat also expressed its gratitude for the continued technical and financial support of the US to the GSP programs.