Statement on World Soil Day

Please see the below message from Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada, recognising World Soil Day 2023:

While we are working on common climate resiliency strategies here at COP28, I am thinking about the importance of celebrating World Soil Day this year. Indigenous peoples have deep spiritual connections to soil and have always been leaders in preserving and stewarding it. For years our farmers have been dealing with economic hardship, since a loss of soil quality impacts crop yields and farmland resiliency. We also know from data collected by my colleague and inspiration Dr. Ingrid Waldron and the ENRICH Project that soil degradation is often connected to environmental racism, where lands where racialised communities are located are disproportionately chosen as sites for toxic environmental hazards.

We must build on our impact assessment standards to require all projects to report on their expected impacts to soil health. I also support the swift implementation of a farmland resiliency strategy to combat soil . I am so hoping to see my private members bill, the National Strategy Respecting Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice Act, finally pass into law soon. This will help make sure that impact assessments center the voices and needs of all people when making project decisions that impact soil quality.

One of the Indian delegates is Sadhguru, the founder of ‘Save Soil’ movement. During Friday’s inaugural session, he described soil as the “ultimate unifier.” I share this view. Soil degradation affects all of us by threatening biodiversity and food security. It is long overdue for politicians to come together in Canada and pass a national soil preservation strategy. Soil is a foundation of human life and it is our shared responsibility to be mindful stewards of the lands on which we are situated. The following quote comes from celebrated activist Vandana Shiva’s 2008 book, ‘Soil Not Oil’:

“The most creative and necessary work that humans do is work with the soil as coproducers with nature. Human effort and knowledge based on care for the soil prevents and reverses desertification, the root of collapse of so many historical civilizations. Rebuilding soil fertility is the very basis of sustainable food production and food security. Without fertile soil, what is life?”