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Soil and Water Management

Soils are a non-renewable resource that we continue to lose at incredibly high rates. Conservative estimates arrive at the 24 billion tons of fertile soil lost each year. This is not restricted to arid environments, land and soil degradation is a global issue, as it affects 1.5 billion people. By 2050, nine billion people will need to be fed in face of climate change and water scarcity and to this end, fertile soils are essential.

Integrated land and water management practices improve agricultural production and enhance soil productivity and its resilience against desertification and other impacts of climate change and variability.
Radionuclide and stable isotopic techniques can be used to study soil erosion and land degradation problems. Nuclear technology can also help countries to assess and improve their soil and water management practices.

IAEA technical cooperation projects help Member States to improve crops. They also help to support soil conservation and optimize fertilizer usage.

The Global Soil Partnership for Food Security and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation (GSP) brings together international, regional and national organizations that are working in the area of soil protection and sustainable management. The IAEA is participating in the Global Soil Partnership because nuclear science and technology have an important role to play in efficient soil and water management.

The IAEA is working with numerous soil research organizations through the technical cooperation programme. Click here for a list of organizations in Africa, Asia and the Pacific and Latin America.

Highlighted is a case study about the importance of soil science for informing sustainable land and water management practices in Tajikistan. In cooperation with the UN University (Environment and Human Security) and the WOCAT, two IAEA’s technical cooperation projects assessed the quantity and reasons for soil erosion, contributing  to the Sustainable Land Management in the Pamir Alai Mountains, the PALM project. Inappropriate agricultural practices were identified and sustainable land use plans and a soil map of Tajikistan developed.

How is the IAEA improving land use and soil conservation in Tajikistan. Read more   UNU-EHS project: Sustainable Land Management in the High Pamir and Pamir-Alai Mountains (PALM).
Read more
  PALM project update.
Read more
UNU-EHS Policy Brief: Towards Sustainable Land Management in the Palmir-Alai Mountains. Read more   UNCCD cooperation with IAEA: Unusual and effective: nuclear technology to combat land degradation. Read more   The IAEA and UNCCD sign an agreement to collaborate in the nuclear technologies to strengthen the assessment of soil erosion and monitor improvements over time. Read more

Other resources:
The impact of science on soil conservation
The Science of Soil: Using radionuclides to support soil conservation
View TC's success stories in soil and water mangement
Read more about the Global Soil Partnership
World Soil Day 2012:  Saving Soil - Saving Livelihoods Article
World Soil Day 2012: Interview with Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha of Thailand

The twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was held from 16 to 27 September 2015 in Ankara, Turkey. A side event was held by the IAEA, and counterparts from Morocco and Madagascar took part in the event. More information

COP12 - side event by the IAEA, 19 October, 2015
IAEA presented success stories in the use of tools, technologies and practices to support the development and management of land use policies. Representatives from Morocco and Madagascar presented and discussed their experiences using nuclear and related techniques in their fight against soil erosion, acquired through collaboration with IAEA’s technical cooperation programme with support by the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture.


LEDS Global Partnership Annual Awards Program: Recognizing Outstanding Individual Vision and Action to Advance Climate-Resilient, Low-Emission Development
The LEDS Global Partnership is pleased to announce a call for nominations for the LEDS Global Partnership Annual Awards Program: Recognizing Outstanding Individual Vision and Action to Advance Climate-Resilient, Low-Emission Development. More information

The eleventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) will be held from 16 to 27 September 2013 in Windhoek, Republic of Namibia. More information

This publication provides a comprehensive step by step guidance in the application of fallout radionuclides (FRNs) for investigating soil erosion and soil redistribution affecting agro-ecosystems to an audience of scientists and technicians from disciplines, such as soil science, ecology, and agronomy, as well as extension workers, undergraduate and graduate students, and staff of non-governmental organizations involved in agricultural development at local, national, regional and international level. More information.


The animated film LET’S TALK ABOUT SOIL emphasizes human dependence on soils and describes how sustainable development is threatened by certain soil use trends; the film offers options to make the way we manage our soils more sustainable.

The film is also available in German, Spanish, French and Arabic here

LET’S TALK ABOUT SOIL was produced by designer and animator Uli Henrik Streckenbach for the Global Soil Week and the Global Soil Partnership with the support of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) – Global Soil Forum, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Deutsche Welle.


Responsible/Contact: Department of Technical Cooperation | Last update: 20 Apr, 2016

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