News-CRUX-10     3rd July 2024        
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Context: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued a stark warning, stating that a staggering 90% of the planet’s land surface could be degraded by 2050.

UNESCO International Conference

  • Organized by: UNESCO and the Kingdom of Morocco’s National Agency for the Development of Oasis and Argan Zones (ANDZOA)
  • Participants: 30 Countries
  • Objective: The conference’s goal was to have discussions that would lead to an action plan for achieving goals such as improved soil protection and rehabilitation.

Key Highlights of Conference

  • Call for Global Priority: UNESCO is calling on the international community to make soil protection a priority.
  • Alarming Soil Degradation: According to the World Atlas of Desertification, 75 per cent of soils are already degraded, directly affecting 3.2 billion people. If the current trend continues, this may increase to 90 per cent by 2050.
  • Education and Training: The conference also focused on increasing the commitment of young people and communities through education and training programmes.
  • World Soil Health Index: UNESCO has pledged to support member states by establishing a ‘world soil health index’ with international partners.

oThe index will help standardise measures for analysing and comparing soil quality across different regions and ecosystems.

  • Trend Identification: Bringing soil data together on a common platform will help identify trends in soil degradation or improvement, and highlight the most vulnerable areas.
  • Soil Management Evaluation: The practice aims to improve the evaluation of the effectiveness of soil management practices.
  • Pilot Programme: UNESCO will launch a pilot programme for long-term soil and landscape management in ten natural sites supported by its Biosphere Reserves Programme.

oThe initiative will help assess the management methods used on these sites and ensure that best practices are developed and implemented globally.