World Soil Day, time to give something back!

27 November 2020, Martin Doeswijk

December is a month for reflection, contemplating new year's resolutions and devoting attention to one another. The winter solstice on 21 December is the day “evil” is chased away and the light greeted. And because it's so important to focus our attention on the importance of healthy soil and to campaign for sustainable management of soil resources, 5 December has been World Soil Day since 2014.

Did you know that the equivalent of a football field of soil erodes every five seconds? In response, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) launched their “Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity” campaign. The FAO aims to raise awareness across the world and encourage people to proactively improve the health of our soil. If we don’t act quickly, the fertility of the soil will diminish so much that global food supplies and food safety will be threatened.

Globalisation and rapid population growth are accelerating this process. While we cannot prevent this, we can reduce its impact through measures such as investing in science and education and in increasing the sustainability of our living environment. We all make intensive use of the soil under our feet. It supplies the food we eat, we spend our leisure time on it and we even entrust our loved ones to the earth when they pass away.

Unfortunately, Brussels recently missed an important opportunity to improve the living environment and biodiversity in Europe. The vast majority of the €350 billion in agricultural subsidies – the largest item in the European budget – was allocated to direct income support to traditional agriculture. This means another source of income is required to realise the plans for a climate neutral, healthier and sustainable EU food system (EU Green Deal). This means using fewer pesticides, more organic farming and developing more nature.

Of course for us, as designers and builders of a sustainable living environment, this is a piece of cake. But in the end, we must all do it together. So dear readers, it's high time we all gave something back: take action, drive away evil and give our soil the attention it deserves. From now on, every day is World Soil Day!

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