Almost everything, it seems, has a day or week or month dedicated to it, often as a marketing ploy or awareness-raising tactic: causes, products, professions. July, for example, is National Ice Cream Month, and the third Sunday in July is National Ice Cream Day. May has been designated Garden for Wildlife month, to encourage people to make their yards hospitable to birds, butterflies, and other critters. May 6 is National Tourist Appreciation Day. Customer Service Week and Fire Prevention Week coincide in early October.
Some are more serious than others, and sometimes we can put these events to good use. As I mentioned several months ago, the United Nations has launched the Global Soil Partnership and designated 2015 the International Year of Soils (and has made December 5 World Soil Day). The goal is essentially to recognize soil as a valuable resource and to protect what the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has called a “fragile foundation.”
Here, in part, is a statement of the UN’s objectives for the Year of Soils:
- to create full awareness of civil society and decision makers about the fundamental roles of soils for human’s life;
- to achieve full recognition of the prominent contributions of soils to food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and sustainable development;
- to promote effective policies and actions for the sustainable management and protection of soil resources;
- to sensitize decision-makers about the need for robust investment in sustainable soil management activities aiming at healthy soils for different land users and population groups;
- to advocate rapid enhancement of capacities and systems for soil information collection and monitoring at all levels (global, regional and national).
Since most of us are closely involved in one way or another with the soil, this seems like a great opportunity to do a little awareness-raising of our own. Is your city or organization planning anything to commemorate the Year of Soils—a tree-planting campaign, a community garden project, an outreach effort at a local school? Suggestions? Leave a comment below.