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Speaker Order:

Dr. Pedro A. Arraes- Embrapa President

Dr. Bráulio F. de Souza Dias- Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Dr. Luca Montanarella, EU, Director General, Joint Research Center

Parvis Koohafkan, Director, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), Land and Water Division

Fatima Moreira, UFLA, BIOSBRASIL

Ieda Mendes, Embrapa, Cerrados



At the Rio+20, UN Conference on Global Sustainability the GSBI hosted a side event “Towards a Truly Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative,” at Embrapa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event, organized by George Brown and Heitor Coutinho of Embrapa, was designed to bring awareness to the recently established Initiative, and forge connections with the CBD, FAO and EU-JRC.

Embrapa’s President, Dr. Pedro A. Arraes, opened the meeting by highlighting the importance of soil biodiversity for global sustainability, especially in the context of agriculture.

The Side Event was then split into two parts. First, representatives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), EU Joint Research Center (JRC), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) discussed how the GSBI could integrate and work with each of the organizations, and provided input on areas the GSBI should focus on. Specific emphasis was on the Aichi targets and the Convention goals.

In sum, the three representatives (Dr. de Souza Diaz, Dr. Montanarella and Dr. Koohafkan) considered several aspects of critical importance for the efforts of the GSBI: 

1.     Link GSBI goals to UN strategic biodiversity goals and Aichi targets.

2.     Provide examples and guidelines linking soil biodiversity with soil conservation, food security, carbon sequestration, water quality and infiltration, possibilities of reducing land degradation and desertification.

3.     Make soil quality assessments and thresholds accessible to farmers on a local level

4.     Create a transparent, global network linking public, policy and decision makers, land managers and scientists.

5.     Invest in and support global research projects


Following presentations by the three representatives of CBD, EU-JRC and FAO the meeting changed directions and two Brazilian researchers, Fatima Moreira, UFLA, BIOSBRASIL and Ieda Mendes, Embrapa, Cerrados presented on their work. Both presenters highlighted the need for work ‘on the ground’, the development of indicators and thresholds and the importance of networking scientists

After each presentation there were a series of questions and discussion with ample participation by the audience. It was emphasized that work with soil biodiversity and indicators, in particular, need to be developed in partnership with the farmers, and approaches should not be top-down, but transverse, and recognize the local knowledge and experience of farmers.

Overall the GSBI Rio+20 Side Event was productive and successful. We are now focusing our efforts on the 5 goals outlined above and look forward to future participation with the CBD, FAO and EU-JRC.


Towards a truly Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI)

8:00-11:00 AM
Espaço Mariza,
Embrapa Solos,
Rua Jardim Botânico 1024 (next to the Botanical Gardens car entrance)

GSBI is excited to announce it will be holding a side event at the Rio +20 conference. The Rio +20 Conference will be held in Brazil 20-22 of June 2012, and bring together government, private sector, NGO’s and other groups to discuss how to reduce poverty and increase social equity.  Seven critical issues have been identified as themes for the conference: 1) Jobs 2) Energy, 3) Cities, 4) Food, 5) Water, 6) Oceans, and 7) Disasters.  The central themes revolve around human use of the world primarily focusing on food, water, and growth.   For soil, the central relevant theme will be food, however soil and soil biodiversity are critical for maintaining clean water and should not be overlooked.  Therefore the aim of the event will be to increase international participation and awareness in the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative, a scientific led effort to create better collaboration and synthesis around soil biodiversity research and issues.

We are particularly interested in your input during a working session where we will identify examples of why soil biodiversity matters, identify the available data that supports these examples, and determine the priorities for next steps for the Initiative. Please stop by to give us your input, and learn a little more about the important role of the GSBI


Meeting Schedule (Portugues translation)

8:00-8:10 – Welcome (Pedro Antônio Arraes Pereira, President--Director of Embrapa <to be confirmed>)
8:10-8:20 – A few words on Soil Biodiversity and the CBD goals for the conservation and sustainable use of soils and their diversity (Bráulio F. de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD) 
8:20-8:25- Introduction to the side event (George Brown & Heitor Coutinho, Embrapa)
8:25-8:50 – The Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative: Objectives and the way forward (Luca Montanarella, European Commission - DG JRC)
8:50-9:15 – Achievements of the Soil Biodiversity Initiative of the CBD (FAO representative)
9:15-9:40 – Conservation and Sustainable Management of Below-Ground Biodiversity, lessons learned from an 8 yr project (Fátima Moreira, UFLA, BIOSBRASIL)
9:40-10:00 – Using bioindicators to assess soil quality: examples from Brazil (Ieda Mendes, Embrapa Cerrados)
10:00-10:15 – Soil Biodiversity and ecosystem services (Diana Wall, Colorado State University)
10:15-11:00 – Open Discussion “Towards a truly Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative” (George Brown and Diana Wall, facilitators)

We are excited to see results and activities occurring at Rio +20.  There will be several key events held related to biodiversity. We will be updating the website and blog daily.  Follow our twitter (@theGSBI) for immediate updates.