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International Forum on Soils, Society and Global Change

31 August - 4 September 2007 | Selfoss, Iceland

IISD's Summary

7 September 2007

On the occasion of its centenary, the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland, held the International Forum on Soils, Society and Global Change in Selfoss, Iceland, from 31 August - 4 September 2007. Held in partnership with three Icelandic institutions, and 18 international agencies, organizations and universities, the forum brought together approximately 130 participants, including scientists, policy makers, land users and private sector representatives. The forum, which had as its patron Iceland's President, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, aimed to explore the synergistic roles of soil conservation and vegetation restoration in meeting local, regional and global environmental and social challenges. It also aimed to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and ideas between scientists, policy makers, land users and private sector representatives.

The meeting consisted of presentations, plenary and working group discussions. Plenary sessions focused on four themes, which then fed into working group discussions: Setting the Stage: Soils, Society and Global Change; Healthy Soils: Supporting Food Security, Water Provision, Poverty Reduction and Biodiversity; Mitigating Climate Change through Restoration of Degraded Land; and Creating an Enabling Environment. The five working groups addressed: soil stewardship and landcare; soil management and multilateral environmental agreements; carbon sequestration, carbon markets and land restoration; knowledge management; and capacity building for legislative and policy development in soils management.

The meeting resulted in two related sets of outcomes. First, each of the working groups identified key issues and related recommendations, together with a set of actions and modus operandi for implementing their recommendations. Additionally, forum participants accepted a Programme of Action summarizing key aspects of the working group outcomes. It is also anticipated that a book of conference proceedings, incorporating working group reports and presenters' papers, will be released in late 2007 or early 2008. More information

Andrés Arnalds, SCS, concluded that the main lessons from the SCS’s 100 year history include the synergistic role of soil conservation and land restoration, and the importance of participatory approaches to land management.
Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, SCS, outlined the schedule for two field trips to be undertaken during the course of the forum.
Uriel Safriel, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, noted ambiguities surrounding the definition of desertification and the difficulty of separating human- from naturally-induced causes of degradation.
L-R: Andrés Arnalds, SCS; former president of Iceland, Vigdis FinnbogadottirEinars Guðfinnssonar, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Iceland; Sveinn Runolfsson, SCS, during the forum's opening session.
During dinner at the SCS, former president of Iceland, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, addressed participants, reflecting on the centrality of the landscape to Icelandic history and identity, and the parallels between the erosion of soil and the erosion of languages.
A forum participant commenting on the presentations during the "healthy soils" session
Presenters from the session on "healthy soils: supporting food security, water provision, poverty reduction and biodiversity"
View from Hotel Selfoss.

All photos courtesy of Jón Ragnar Björnsson and Guðjón Magnússon

Related Links
Links to IISD Resources

IISD RS coverage of the Wilton Park Conference on "Forestry: a sectoral response to climate change", 21-23 November 2006, Steyning, West Sussex, United Kingdom
IISD RS archives of Meetings on Forests, Desertification or Land Issues
Linkages Update
Forests-L - Forests Policy Issues and Announcement Listserve
Climate-L - Climate Change News and Policy Developments Listserve
BIODIVERSITY-L - Biodiversity and Wildlife Listserve
MEA-L - Multilateral Environmental Agreements Listserve
African Regional Coverage

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