Improving international soil governance
Analysis and recommendations
Soil protection is a neglected topic of environmental policy. This study develops options for the German government to improve international soil governance in the short, medium and long term. The study first takes stock of existing international instruments and institutions that are relevant for soil protection and its governance at the international level. It assesses the actual and potential steering effect of, inter alia, the Desertification Convention, the Biodiversity Convention, the Paris Agreement and climate regime, regional treaties, FAO, UNEP, IPBES and IPCC. At present, the Sustainable Development Goals and in particular the “land degradation neutrality” target have established a global political reference point. But there are almost no binding obligations for all states specifically regarding soil. Current governance of soil at the international level is piecemeal and spread over parts of different mandates. There is significant overlap of mandates and activities of relevant institutions, each of which has limitations. While a certain degree of a rudimentary division of labour is emerging, there is scope and a need for improvement. The study develops options for improving international soil governance with regard to overarching issues, new treaty or institutions, improving existing governance, means of implementation and enhancing co-ordination and coherence.