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FORUM paper: The significance of soils and soil science towards realization of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs)

FORUM paper: The significance of soils and soil science towards realization of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs)

In this FORUM paper the authors discuss how soil scientists can help to reach the recently adopted UN Sustainable Development Goals in the most effective manner. Soil science, as a land-related discipline has important links to several of the SDGs which are demonstrated through the functions of soils and the ecosystem services that are linked to those functions.

They explore and discuss how soil scientists can rise to the challenge both internally, in terms of our procedures and practices, and externally in terms of our relations with colleague scientists in other disciplines, diverse groups of stakeholders and the policy arena.

To meet these goals they recommend the following steps to be taken by the soil science community as a whole:

(i) Embrace the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as they provide a platform that allows soil science to demonstrate its relevance for realizing a sustainable society by 2030.

(ii) Show the specific value of soil science: Research should explicitly show how using modern soil information can improve the results of inter- and trans-disciplinary studies on SDGs related to food security, water scarcity, climate change, biodiversity loss and health threats.

(iii) Given the integrative nature of soils, soil scientists are in a unique position to take leadership in overarching systems-analyses of ecosystems;

(iii) Raise awareness of soil organic matter as a key attribute of soils to illustrate its importance for soil functions and ecosystem services;

(iv) Improve the transfer of knowledge through knowledge brokers with a soil background;

(v) Start at the basis: educational programs are needed at all levels, starting in primary schools, and emphasizing practical, down-to-earth examples;

(vi) Facilitate communication with the policy arena by framing research in terms that resonate with politicians in terms of the policy cycle or by considering drivers, pressures and responses affecting impacts of land use change; and finally (vii) all this is only possible if researchers, with soil scientists in the frontlines, look over the hedge towards other disciplines, to the world-at-large and to the policy arena, reaching over to listen first, as a basis for genuine collaboration 

FORUM paper: The significance of soils and soil science towards realization of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) (PDF Download Available). Available from: ResearchGate