The case for a Convention for the security and protection of soil: preferred options; possible structure and composition of a global instrument for soil. Ben Boer Co-Chair, CEL/WCPA Specialist Group on Protected Areas Law and Policy
The case for a Convention for the security and protection of soil: preferred options; possible structure and composition of a global instrument for soil
Co-Chair, CEL/WCPA Specialist Group on Protected Areas Law and Policy
Professor, Research Institute of Environmental Law, Wuhan University and Emeritus Professor in Environmental Law
University of Sydney
Introduction: Why is a legally binding multi-lateral agreement on soil desirable?
History of development of a global agreement on soil security and sustainable use
Example of options for a global agreement on soil security and sustainable use under the UNCCD
Political backing for a global Convention on soil
We have known of the value of soils for generations
Soil degradation is both a national concern as well as an international concern:
Soil is the basis of terrestrial biodiversity
Soil is the basis of all terrestrial food sources, and, arguably, marine food sources:
Soil carbon sequestration now recognized as of crucial significance: the soil organic carbon pool is the second largest carbon pool on the planet (after the ocean)
“Enhancing soils anywhere enhances life everywhere”
UNCCD: “There is a close relationship between livelihood and ecosystem wellbeing, and soils that are rich in biodiversity. Healthy soils produce life, and yet soil health depends a lot on how individuals use their land. What we do to our soils determines the quality and quantity of the food we eat and how our ecosystems serve us. Our increasing ecological interdependence also means enhancing soils anywhere enhances life everywhere”
Convention to Combat Desertification website: http://www.unccd.int/publicinfo/june17/2010/menu.php
Rio+20: “The Future We want”
At Rio+20, countries agreed to give support to
“…the economic and social significance of good land management, including soil, particularly its contribution to economic growth, biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and food security, eradicating poverty, women’s empowerment, addressing climate change and improving water availability”.
Rio+20: “The Future We want”
Rio+20also recognized that :
“…desertification, land degradation, and drought are challenges of global dimension and continue to pose serious challenges to the sustainable development of all countries…and call for urgent action through short-, medium- and long-term measures at all levels”.
Paragraph 205 of the UN “The Future We Want”. Version of 19 June 2012.
The development of a Protocol to the UNCCD on Zero Net Land Degradation is a first and vital step
However, it is argued in this workshop that there a need for a generally applicable Sustainable Soils Convention for all lands
What can the
The provisions of a new UNCCD protocol on zero net land degradation could facilitate:
a. The incorporation of emerging economic instruments, such as payments for ecosystem services (e.g., carbon sequestration, water conservation) to be used in preventing degradation of non-degraded land, as well as supporting the restoration of already degraded land;
b. The negotiation and setting of achievable and verifiable targets for ZNLD at Conferences of the Parties to the Convention under advice of the CST;
c. The development of policies, measures, guidelines and mechanisms for the implementation of ZNLD at national and regional levels; and
d. The provision of legal frameworks, guidelines and models for national and sub-national policies to promote ZNLD.
Rationale for the Zero Net Land Degradation Protocol
The UNCCD does not have the benefit of a protocol to support its implementation (c.f. UNFCCC with Kyoto Protocol 1997 and CBD with the Biosafety Protocol 2000 and Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing 2010)
The new focus on Zero Net Land Degradation can address the difficulties of implementing the UNCCD, and be a fundamental instrument for achievement of the target of Zero Net Land Degradation (ZNLD) by 2030
The aim of Zero Net Land Degradation
Recent discussions have centred around the policy goal of achieving Zero net Land Degradation (ZNLD).
ZNLD refers to “the achievement of land degradation neutrality, whereby land degradation is either avoided or off set by land restoration.”
Promoting the ZNLD target would secure the currently available productive land for the use of present and future generations.
Note: ZNLD applies both to desertification and all other land degradation processes
Zero Net Land Degradation
“If the continuing loss of productive land can be offset by restoring already-degraded land, so that the annual rate of restoration equals the annual degradation rate, then zero net land degradation is attained and the area of global productive land will remain stable.
Thus, promoting ways to avoid further degradation, while at the same time restoring already-degraded land, ZNLD can be achieved.
Reaching ZNLD targets regionally and eventually globally would secure the continuing availability of productive land for the use of present and future generations.” Boer, Lal and Safriel, Zero Net Land Degradation: A New Sustainable Development Goal for Rio+ 20, (for UNCCD, April 2012 )
History of research on a global soil instrument
From 2000 to 2011 theIUCN CEL Specialist Group for Sustainable Use of Soil and Desertification has:
2002 - Hannam and Boer “Legal and Institutional Frameworks for Sustainable Use of Soil” (EPLP 45);
2004 – Hannam and Boer “Guide to Drafting Legislation for Sustainable Soils” (EPLP 52);
2011 – Hannam and Du Qun “Legal and Policy Framework for Dryland Ecosystems: People’s Republic of China” (EPLP 80);
To strengthen legal and institutional systems to manage soil - need legal
frameworks that can implement the objectives of multilateral treaties,
strategies and policies;
Sets out choice of regulatory and non-regulatory strategies;
Sets out options for short term and long term approaches to the development of legal frameworks – minor amendment or integrated sustainable soil law;
► Over 100 “generic” legal and institutional elementsprepared by ELP as a foundation for drafting national
Soil law publications since last WCC
Futrell, W.J. (2009). New Action for Soil Protection, 39 Environmental Law Reporter 10079
Vanheusden, B. (2009). ‘Recent Developments in European Policy Regarding Brownfield Remediation’, Environmental Practice, Vol. 11/4, 256-262.
Shields A. (2009). Critical Analysis of the Land Damage Provisions of the Environmental Liability Directive, Irish Planning and Environmental Law Journal.
Grinlinton, D. and Taylor, P. (eds). (2011). Property Rights and Sustainability, Nijhoff/Brill, Netherlands, 414pp.
Grinlinton, D. (2010). “Evolution, Adaptation, and Intervention: Property Rights in Natural Resources in a Changing World”, in Grinlinton and Taylor (eds), Property Rights and Sustainability, Nijhoff/Brill, Netherlands, pp275-304.
Hannam, I.D. (2011). ‘Human Dimensions of Soil and Water Conservation: Mongolia’, in T. Napier (ed) Human Dimensions of Soil and Water Conservation: A Global Perspective, Agriculture Issues and Policies, Nova Science Publishers, Inc, New York.
Hannam, I.D. and Du Qun (2011). Law, Policy and Dryland Ecosystems: People’s Republic of China, IUCN Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. 140pp.
Hannam, I.D. (2012). ‘Transboundary resource management strategies in the Pamir mountain region of Tajikistan’, in Strengthening Post-Conflict Peace-building through Natural Resource Management, the Environmental Law Institute, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), University of Tokyo, and the Specialist Group on Armed Conflict and the Environment of the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law.
Lal, R, Safriel, U and Boer. B.W* 2012). Zero Net Land Degradation: A New Sustainable Development Goal for Rio+ 20. A report prepared for the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification .
From 1970’s – has been growth in national and international environmental laws to manage the natural environment – but absence of “soil law”
Soil, as the primary basis for all terrestrial biodiversity, has generally been ignored in international fora and by national governments, except through the UNCCD;
The lack of focus on sustainable use and conservation of soil represents a substantial gap in global policy making on the environment;
Soil, as a vital biological resource demands urgent and specific attention on the same level as biological diversity and the effects of climate change;
Fundamental role is to stimulate regional and national action by motivating States to legislate or reform legislation for soil protection;
Role of an international Convention
Binding stand-alone convention (c.f. EU Soil Directive Proposal rationale): a specific treaty addressing all of the essential legal elements for soil
A framework treaty, which identifies the soil elements in existing treaties and links them through a separate binding instrument. The new instrument would contain additional, specific legal rules for soil
Protocol to an existing Convention that creates specific rules for soil; (e.g. UNCCD, UNCBD); (compare Protocol to the Alps Convention)
A non-binding instrument;
Update and expand UN FAO Soil Charter
Declaration of principles on sustainable use of soil (debated in Iceland 2005);
Global Soil Partnership (GSP) for Food Security and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation
. The dilemma
These investigations also reveal a dilemma concerning the direction that ought to be taken in considering the scope, functions and form of a global agreement on soil.
The dilemma arises from the fact that soil issues are relevant to each of the Rio conventions, on Climate Change, Biological Diversity and Desertification, but none of these instruments is an entirely satisfactory vehicle by itself for a subsidiary instrument such as a protocol on soil security and sustainable use
The Draft Protocol for Security and Sustainable Use of Soilwas prepared in 2009 as a legislative frameworkto support the UNCCD and its 10 Year Strategy and Framework (2008-2018);
An outline of this Draft Protocol was presented at the Soil Legislation Side event at UNCCD COP9 at Buenos Aires in September 2009;
A further version was presented at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in Durban at the end of 2011.
Now the debate has shifted, with the proposal of a ZNLD Protocol to be developed.
Provides a holistic, integrated approach across all relevant environmental media necessary for protection of soil;
Provides an integrated, synergistic mechanism between the purpose of the Rio multi-lateral environmental agreements and mechanisms;
Will assist in improving the living conditions of affected populations and the condition of affected ecosystems;
It will be the basis for national legislative mechanisms to address all forms of land degradation, including desertification
A Convention on Sustainable Soils would fill a substantial gap in international environmental law
A Convention on Sustainable Soils would promote significant reform of soil conservation legislation at a national level
A Convention on Sustainable Soils would be in addition to the UN Convention on Desertification