Happy New Year 2015, the International Year of Soils

Sharifa Juma digs terraces to stop soil erosion
Sharifa Juma digs terraces to stop soil erosion in Lushoto, Tanzania. Photo credit: Georgina Smith / CIAT.

Greetings and a very Happy New Year 2015! As we begin yet another new year, we say goodbye to 2014, the International Year of Family Farming, and usher in 2015, the International Year of Soils.

The 68th United Nations General Assembly declared 2015 the International Year of Soils. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been nominated to implement the International Year of Soils within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and in collaboration with governments and the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

The International Year of Soils aims to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.

The specific objectives are to:

  • raise awareness among civil society and decision-makers about the importance of soil for human life;
  • educate the public about the crucial role soil plays in food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and sustainable development;
  • support effective policies and actions for the sustainable management and protection of soil resources;
  • promote investment in sustainable soil management activities to develop and maintain healthy soils for different land users and population groups;
  • strengthen initiatives in connection with the Sustainable Development Goals process and post-2015 agenda; and
  • advocate for rapid capacity enhancement for soil information collection and monitoring at all levels (global, regional and national).

Visit the 2015 International Year of Soils website to find out more.

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GMOs in the pipeline: Have your say in an FAO e-mail conference

From 5 November to 2 December 2012 the FAO Biotechnology Forum is hosting its next e-mail conference on “GMOs in the pipeline: Looking to the next five years in the crop, forestry, livestock, aquaculture and agro-industry sectors in developing countries“.

Its goal is to inform the debate about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the pipeline, considering the specific kind of GMOs that are likely to be commercialised in developing countries over the next five years (that is, before the end of 2017) and to discuss the likely implications of these new GMOs for developing countries.

The conference is open to everyone, is free and will be moderated.

To subscribe to the conference, send an e-mail to listserv@listserv.fao.org with the following one line in the body of the message (leave the subject line blank):

subscribe biotech-room2-L firstname lastname

Where firstname and lastname refer to the person’s first and last name.

For example, if the subscriber’s name is John Smith, then the line should be:

subscribe biotech-room2-L John Smith

The background document to the conference is available from the Forum website, at http://www.fao.org/biotech/biotech-forum/en/.

For more information, contact biotech-mod2@fao.org.

Featured resource: FAO food security communications toolkit

As countries in the Horn of Africa, and more recently in the Sahel region, continue to grapple with the challenge of food and nutritional insecurity, professionals in charge of developing and implementing policies and strategies to address the problem need to be able to effectively communicate these strategies to various audiences.

The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has published a  communications toolkit to help food security professionals to do just that.

Below is the abstract:

Food security professionals increasing realize that they must use communications strategically for their work to have a maximum impact. While most organizations have invested heavily in food security analysis and research, many still need to enhance their communications to ensure their findings reach their intended users and action is taken.

This toolkit is geared to helping food security professionals develop a communication strategy and communicate more effectively with their target audiences. Specific sections of the toolkit focus on policy makers and the media, because of the important role they play in implementing and influencing food security policies.

The toolkit also looks at specific information products such as policy briefs, reports and early warning bulletins, and suggests ways to structure and improve them. A section on writing effectively, which focuses on grammar and style, makes sure that written documents are easy to read.

Finally, the toolkit gives tips for using the internet, social media and Web 2.0 tools as these technologies offer unprecedented opportunities for engaging in two way dialogues with global audiences. The toolkit also includes readymade templates and dozens of tips and tricks distilled from many years of experience.

While aimed at professionals working in food security related fields, the lessons in this toolkit can easily be applied to many other fields.

The communications toolkit may be downloaded at this web page: http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/i2195e/i2195e00.htm?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=tweet&utm_campaign=knowledge