Chitre, Panama – Over 100 representatives of the ministries of environment, agriculture and health together with delegates from research institutions, associations of producers, CSOs and international organizations joined the celebration the World Soil Day (WSD) on 5 December 2018 in Chitre, about 300 km from Panama City. The forum organized by the Ministry of the Environment gave the participants an opportunity to analyze main causes and consequences of soil degradation and pollution, as well as evaluate measures that can contribute to soil health.
Based on this year's theme "Be the solution to the soil pollution," the event focused on soil conditions in Central America, the problem of soil contamination by pesticides and heavy metals, and the international conventions that address these issues, such as the Rotterdam Convention. As outlined by the representative of FAO Ms. Inés Beernaerts, while soil acts as a filter and absorber of pollutants, preventing their entry into the food chain, the bodies of water and the environment, the potential of soil to deal with pollution is not infinite. According to the latest report, presented to the Desertification National Committee to Combat Desertification and Drought, about 28 per cent of soil in Panama are degraded.
During the ceremony, the UNCCD focal point Ms. Gladys Villarea handed a formal note of commitment to achieve the land degradation neutrality (LDN) targets in Panama to the head of the UNCCD regional coordination unit Mr. José Miguel Torrico. Mr. Torrico reported on the role of LDN in protecting healthy soils and presented Ms Villarea with a copy of a recently published third edition of the World Atlas of Desertification.