On December 4, 2020, the Fifth Scientific and Practical Conference on Food Security and Soil Science was held online, timed to coincide with the celebration of World Soil Day in the Russian Federation. The event was organized by FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation, ECFS, the World Bank, and the Russian State Agrarian University – Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy (RSAU-MTAA).


soilday sc 4

The Global Soil Partnership (GSP) has been organizing a World Soil Day (WSD) campaign since 2014 to raise awareness of the importance of soil conservation and preserving soil health through sustainable soil management worldwide. The theme of the WSD 2020 campaign is “Keep soil alive, Protect soil biodiversity.”  

Previous conferences in Russia  have been held jointly with leading Russian science, research, and educational institutions with the aims of exchanging experience and knowledge and of strengthening cooperation among scientists, researchers, government officials, agribusiness, and nonprofit organizations to address practical and applied problems. Information about WSD 2019 in Sochi is available here.

This year the conference in Russia was held on the Zoom platform and attended by 180 specialists from Russia, Europe, and Central Asia, as well as from the United States and South Africa.

The meeting was moderated by Sergei Shoba, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), President of the Faculty of Soil Science of Moscow State University, and President of the V.V. Dokuchaev Soil Science Society. In his welcoming speech, Sergei Shoba emphasized the crucial role of the soil cover in the processes of global biosphere functions regulation and in ensuring food security.

Then Igor Konstantinov, Vice-Rector for Science and Innovative Development of the RSAU-MTAA; Oleg Kobyakov, Director of the FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation; and Artavazd Hakobyan, Senior Agriculture Economist of the World Bank, addressed the participants with welcoming words.

Oleg Kobyakov announced the great global ceremony of the WSD celebration, organized at FAO headquarters in Rome, also on December 4,  and stressed that for FAO, WSD is one of the main UN holidays, since soils are the basis of agricultural production.

Further, Ronald Vargas, Executive Secretary of the GSP, briefly presented the State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity report. Over 300 scientists from around the world contributed to the preparation of this report, which highlights the threats and the solutions that soil biodiversity can provide to current global challenges. The report is the result of a coordinated effort of the GSP and its Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI), and the European Commission (EC). The main report of over 600 pages is supplemented by a 40-page handy summary for policy makers.

The special guest of the event was Edoardo Costantini, Secretary of the European Society for Soil Conservation and President-Elect of the International Union of Soil Sciences. In his speech, Edoardo Costantini emphasized that soil provides us with ecosystem services that are essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Usually, people talk about the functions of the soil in the context of the first 30 centimeters, this surface layer that is used in agriculture, but they forget about subsoil layers that lie below these 30 centimeters and provide soil self-organization.soilday sc 2

Konstantin Gongalsky, Doctor of Biological Sciences, head of the Laboratory of the Ecological Functions of Soils at the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of RAS, and co-author of the State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity, made a presentation on the protection of soil fauna in Russia. In his opinion, it is necessary to make an inventory of many groups of soil fauna; to create identifiers, including molecular genetic characteristics; and to include soil fauna in the Red Data Books. There is also great potential for assessing the role of soil fauna in ecosystem processes.  

Pavel Krasilnikov, Corresponding Member of RAS and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Soil Science at Moscow State University, spoke about the activities of the Eurasian Soil Partnership (EASP) in 2019–20. In particular in 2020 the Eurasian Soil Portal website was updated; its purpose is to collect and provide soil scientists and all interested parties with a selection of information, mostly in Russian, about soils and their sustainable management in accordance with the goals of the GSP. If you want to post information on the portal, please write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A more detailed overview of the event is available on the FAO website (only in Russian). A video recording of the event is available here. Speakers’ presentations are posted on the ECFS website.

The Fifth Scientific and Practical Conference on Food Security and Soil Science was not the only event dedicated to the WSD celebration in Russia.   

This year, the conference—which was held on the Zoom platform—was attended by 180 specialists from Russia, Europe, and Central Asia, as well as from the United States and South Africa. 

The meeting was moderated by Sergei Shoba, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), President of the Faculty of Soil Science of Moscow State University, and President of the V.V. Dokuchaev Soil Science Society. In his welcoming speech, Sergei Shoba emphasized the crucial role of the soil cover in the processes of global biosphere functions regulation and in ensuring food security.

Then Igor Konstantinov, Vice-Rector for Science and Innovative Development of the RSAU-MTAA; Oleg Kobyakov, Director of the FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation; and Artavazd Hakobyan, Senior Agriculture Economist of the World Bank, addressed the participants with welcoming words.

Oleg Kobyakov announced the imposing global ceremony of the WSD celebration, organized at FAO headquarters in Rome, also on December 4,  and stressed that for FAO, WSD is one of the main UN holidays, since soils are the basis of agricultural production.

Further, Ronald Vargas, Executive Secretary of the GSP, briefly presented the State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity report. Over 300 scientists from around the world contributed to the preparation of this report, which highlights the threats and the solutions that soil biodiversity can provide to current global challenges. The report is the result of a coordinated effort of the GSP and its Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI), and the European Commission (EC). The main report of over 600 pages is supplemented by a 40-page handy summary for policy makers.

The special guest of the event was Edoardo Costantini, Secretary of the European Society for Soil Conservation and President-Elect of the International Union of Soil Sciences. In his speech, Edoardo Costantini emphasized that soil provides us with ecosystem services that are essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Usually, people talk about the functions of the soil in the context of the first 30 centimeters, this surface layer that is used in agriculture, but they forget about subsoil layers that lie below these 30 centimeters and provide soil self-organization.soilday sc 3

Konstantin Gongalsky, Doctor of Biological Sciences, head of the Laboratory of the Ecological Functions of Soils at the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of RAS, and co-author of the State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity, made a presentation on the protection of soil fauna in Russia. In his opinion, it is necessary to make an inventory of many groups of soil fauna; to create identifiers, including molecular genetic characteristics; and to include soil fauna in the Red Data Books. There is also great potential for assessing the role of soil fauna in ecosystem processes.  

Pavel Krasilnikov, Corresponding Member of RAS and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Soil Science at Moscow State University, spoke about the activities of the Eurasian Soil Partnership (EASP) in 2019–20. In 2020 the Eurasian Soil Portal website was updated; its purpose is to collect and provide soil scientists and all interested parties with a selection of information, mostly in Russian, about soils and their sustainable management in accordance with the goals of the GSP. If you want to post information on the portal, please write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A more detailed overview of the event is available on the FAO website (only in Russian). A video recording of the event is available here

The Fifth Scientific and Practical Conference on Food Security and Soil Science was not the only event dedicated to the WSD celebration in Russia.

wsd museum 1

On December 4, an online tour of three soil museums of the world took place. The tour was organized by the V.V. Dokuchaev Central Museum of Soil Science (St. Petersburg, Russia), the Emirates Soil Museum, and the Museum of the Institute of Cartography and Geology (Catalonia, Spain). Virtual tour participants learned about expositions and the history of the museums’ creation. The broadcast took place on Zoom and YouTube platforms. More than 220 people from all over the world watched the museum tours.

The event’s moderator and organizer, the head of the ISRIC World Soil Museum, Stefan Mantel, noted that “the global network of soil museums is a growing group of museums around the world that emphasize the importance of soil and the need to collaborate with each other.” A video of the virtual tour is available here.

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Also, on December 5, the online symposium Grounding Art & Science was held. The speakers of the event were artists and curators of art centers, as well as a representative from the scientific side: Elena Sukhacheva, director of the V.V. Dokuchaev Central Museum of Soil Science.

wsd museum 3

During the symposium, speakers presented a vision of cooperation between scientists and artists on the popularization of soils and environmental issues through modern exhibitions and expositions in classical natural science museums.

The online symposium was held within the framework of the cultural and educational project Grounding, organized by the Center for Art and Science of ITMO University, St. Petersburg). An online symposium recording is available on the website http://groundingwith.space/en/.

In total, more than 700 events took place across the world, marked in 112 countries on the official map of World Soil Day. GSP reminds us that extraordinary events can apply for the WSD 2021 award!

The most ambitious event was the global WSD ceremony, attended by Qu Dongyu, FAO Director-General, and other high-level speakers. Between Zoom and webcast events, the official celebration was followed by over 2,500 participants. During the event, the State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity report was officially presented worldwide; the laureate of the fifth Glinka World Soil PrizeLuca Montanarella from the ITPS and EC, was named; the King Bhumibol World Soil Day Award was presented; and the children’s book contest on soil biodiversity winners were announced. Agenda and presentations are available here.

 

Join the WSD campaign next year!

Programme

 11.00 - 11.20

  • Sergey Alekseevich Shoba, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), President of the Faculty of Soil Science of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, President of the Dokuchaev Soil Science Society
  • Igor Sergeevich Konstantinov, Vice-rector for science and innovative development of the Russian State Agrarian University named after K.A. Timiryazev (RSAU-MTAA)
  • Oleg Yulievich Kobyakov, Director of the FAO Liaison Office with the Russian Federation
  • Artavazd Hakobyan, Senior Agriculture Economist, the World Bank

 11.20 - 11.25 “Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity”video

11.25 - 11.35 Topic: GSP activities on soil biodiversity conservation

Ronald Vargas, Secretary of the Global Soil Partnership, FAO (Rome)

11.35 - 11.45 Topic: Protection of soil fauna in Russia

Konstantin Bronislavovich Gongalsky,Doctor of Biological Sciences, Head of the Laboratory of the Ecological Functions of Soils at the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of RAS

 11.45 - 11.55 Horizons in soil conservation: protecting pedodiversity

Edoardo Costantini, Secretary of the European Society for Soil Conservation, President-elect of the International Union of Soil Sciences

11.55 - 12.05 Topic: Activities of the subregional Eurasian Soil Partnership: main challenges and achievements

Pavel Vladimirovich Krasilnikov, Corresponding Member of RAS, Dean of the Faculty of Soil Science, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Professor

12.05 - 12.15 Topic: Digitization of the collection of soil monoliths of the V.R. Williams Soil-Agronomic Museum

Ivan Ivanovich Vasenev, Head of the Department of Ecology of RSAU-MTAA, Professor

12.15 - 12.25 Topic: How innovation helps to strengthen soil biodiversity

Stanislav Aleksandrovich Shishov, Director for Agronomic Expertise, IntTerra, PhD in Agricultural Science

12.25 - 12.35 Topic: PhosAgro projects aimed at preserving and increasing soil fertility

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nosov, Leading Specialist of the Agronomic Service, PhosAgro, PhD in Biological Science

12.35 - 13.00 Discussion and closing remarks (organizers)

Moderator: Sergey Alekseevich Shoba, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), President of the Faculty of Soil Science of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, President of the Dokuchaev Soil Science Society