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World Soil Day: History, Themes, and Celebrations

The soil beneath us doesn’t always get the proper credit it deserves. It supports the lives of a huge number of living organisms and keeps the earth alive. We celebrate World Soil Day because the soil gives these tiny creatures a home to live in, and they, in turn, provide the soil with nutrients. This symbiotic relationship results in a sustainable environment which seven billion people call home.

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History of World Soil Day

The International Union of Soil Sciences, in December 2002, proposed that December 5 should be World Soil Day. This day would signify the importance of soil in our ecosystem and the critical impacts which the destruction of soil has. 

The selection of December 5 for celebrating the event happened because it coincided with the birth anniversary of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He was the King of Thailand and played a huge role in the activism leading to the formation of World Soil Day.  

In December 2013, at the 68th United Nations Assembly, December 5 was finally officially declared as World Soil Day. The following year, 2014, marked the first official celebration of the event on December 5, 2014. 

Aim of World Soil Day:

Despite the campaigning and spreading awareness about the importance of soil, barely any efforts happened to protect it. Soils have been seen as inferior resources, and negligence is shown by both the people and the governments of the world.

Unlike other natural resources, the degradation of soil is something that does not come to notice easily by the inexperienced eye. It is a slow, silent process, which takes its sweet time, but the effects can be disastrous. Destruction and loss of Acres of land or soil can happen due to carelessness.

World Soil Day aims to attain global attention and bring the effects to light to everyone. Without soil, the ever-growing population will remain underfed since plants won’t have any space to grow. World Soil Day demands that recognition and support for the management of soil along with sustainability. It aims for proper maintenance and care of soil all over the world.

Themes of World Soil Day

On December 52014, the first-ever official World Soil Day celebration took place. Soil experts, politicians, and many other high-profile personalities participated in the event. They gathered at the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) headquarters in Rome, Italy, to host a convention. The main agenda this year was to spread awareness to people outside of the soil community. 

The FAO secretariat spoke a few words during the beginning of the convention, which holds great value. “The soils community could contribute to the efforts of food security, hunger eradication, climate change adaptation, poverty reduction, and sustainable development.” 

The next year2015, was a very important year for the soil community. The theme for 2015’s World Soil Day (which was as a tradition celebrated on December 5 was “Healthy Soils for a Healthy Life.”. 

This year, the importance of soil for food security and the crucial environmental processes it performs was stressed upon. Soils play a huge role to ensure our wellbeing; they are an important contributor to nature and its children too. It prevents loss of biodiversity, loss of water, and especially the loss of plants. In 2015, World Soil Day was celebrated by more than 60,000 scientists who worked hard to spread soil knowledge. 

In 2016, the theme was “Soils & Pulses: Symbiosis for Life.” This time, more than seventy countries participated in the event worldwide, and many exciting new activities took place. The theme was called so because of the synergy between the previous year’s, and 2016 is the International Year of Pulses. 

A book sharing the same name as the theme “Soils & Pulses: Symbiosis for Life” was published by the FAO. It promoted ideas presented by innovative thinkers and scientists about managing the symbiosis between soil and pulses. 

Year 2017’s theme for World Soil Day was “Caring for the soils starts from the ground.” This year, for the first time, New York and Nairobi were cities of the official celebration, along with Rome. Some events were also organized in Santiago and Moscow. 

Another addition was the Global Soil Organic Carbon Map. The UN EA3 Resolution on managing soil pollution was adopted by 177 nations. 

Last year, 2020, saw the theme “Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity.” This time, World Soil Day gained even more attention and was celebrated in 105 countries. A whopping 780 events took place in total across all nations, and many major newspapers published articles about the event. An estimated 820 million people were accultured about the significance of December 5 through these newspapers. 

This, along with the involvement of many popular celebrities and business tycoons, resulted in the participation of more than 350 million people on social media alone on WSD. 2020’s World Soil Day is, to date, the biggest and most widely known WSD.

World Soil Day 2021

The theme for world soil day 2021 is ‘Halt soil salinization, boost soil productivity. Its motive is to raise awareness about maintaining healthy ecosystems and our well-being, by pointing out the dangers of soil salinity.

Motivating governments, organizations and secluded communities about keeping soil healthy is this year’s aim. It will be celebrated on December 5, just like every year in the past.

Activities for World Soil Day 2021

The level of success achieved by World Soil Day depends directly on everyone’s involvement. For people who participate in the celebration, many engaging activities are hosted.

Soil Painting:

As part of its outreach efforts, soil painting competitions were hosted on World Soil Day on December 5th, 2017. The theme was ‘Caring for the Planet starts from the Ground.’ In this contest, the participants displayed their extent of imagination in depicting how soils are crucial in sustainable development.

Children above the age of six were allowed to participate, and different age groups were formed for fair judgement of entries.

Black Soil Photography Contest:

Black soils cover almost 7% of the earth’s surface. But due to pollution and degradation of soil, it may not be around for future generations! This competition aims to try to recognize and save black soil. Participants were told to post captivating photos of black soils which they had seen.

The photo contest “When Soils turn Black” was officially launched on the 16th of October 2017 and now takes place each year.

The contestants who win the photo contest receive soil-related gadgets and certificates. In addition, their picture gets published on the FAO website, i.e., www.fao.org.

How To Take Part in World Soil Day?

This can also be said as what can we do for World Soil Day? You can take part in an international day of soil in the following ways:

  1. You can promote the logo of World Soil Day on social media so that more people get to know about the event.
  2. Share what you know with others. Hosting workshops and seminars is a great way of playing your part in World Soil Day.
  3. Be more creative! The official website of FAO appreciates any suggestions and new ideas from volunteers from any part of the world.
  4. Students can participate by planning a soil experiment with friends or with a teacher. The results of the experiment can be posted or directly sent to FAO.

If you like this article on the international day of soil, please share it with your friends and family members to raise awareness among them.

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