2015 marked a shift in international attention towards the importance of soils, with the United Nations’ decision to inaugurate 2015 as International Year of Soils. This was an important step in raising public awareness, but public concern alone is not sufficient to protect soils and ensure their sustainable use. Soil is considered a “crypto-resource”, a hidden resource, and, unfortunately, becomes visible in the eyes of the public only after catastrophic events and when failures are evident.
Human society is continuously changing: the boost towards continuous economic growth and rapid technological developments, coupled with the progressive increase of information, often causes considerable and unpredictable changes. A cultural leap is therefore imperative: we all need to consider soils as an essential good for humans and life on Earth.
To this end, the ‘Vienna Soil Declaration’ was presented during the conference “Celebration of International Year of Soils 2015 – Achievements and Future Challenges” in Vienna on Dec. 7, 2015, and has been recently adopted by FAO and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In this Declaration, the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) has identified the key roles played by soils in addressing the major environmental, health and social problems which humanity is currently facing. Furthermore, during this conference, the IUSS unilaterally declared the International Decade of Soils (2015-2024), to keep the momentum and further increase soil awareness.
The 2016 ESSC International Conference is an opportunity for Soil Scientists to stimulate deep reflections on the importance of the soil resource for humankind. It will be hosted from 15 to 18 June 2016 in Cluj-Napoca (Romania).