GillTract_seedHandsThe Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has declared 2015 the International Year of Soils. While this is a step in the right direction to recognize the importance of healthy soils for the planet and climate change, the Soil Not Oil Coalition – of which Global Exchange is a member – does not believe this step has gone far enough.

The Soil Not Oil Coalition is a group of scientists, environmental organizations and other community members who share concerns over the decline in soil health, which is the result of the use of fossil fuels and synthetic products throughout the course of the past several decades. In a strategy for sustainability and reversing climate change, the Coalition has renamed 2015 the International Year of Soils Without Oil.

cropped-SNO_LOGO_01_27_2015-BG-grad_2The Soil Not Oil Coalition will advocate for the sustainable and regenerative management of soils while reducing dependency on fossil fuels. The campaign will promote respect for soils worldwide, highlight the ways that shifting agricultural practices is key to combating climate change, and call for integrated action on sustainable agriculture and clean energy to ensure a safe and healthy planet for generations to come.

From the Coalition website:

We believe that restructuring land management practices is key to combating climate change, restoring water cycles, reducing global environmental pollution, stopping ocean acidification, re-establishing biodiversity, improving food production and revitalizing local economies across the planet. The corporate agricultural practice of using more chemicals, more often at higher concentrations with high transportation costs, is not sustainable and deteriorates soil health and productivity, while only benefiting corporate financial interests. Furthermore, we recognize that rapidly accelerating human-caused climate change is a current threat to food security and requires urgent action to halt the reckless and expanding fossil fuel industry. The Soil Not Oil Coalition promotes research and further understanding to optimize soil carbon sequestration and sustainability, to aid in the development of adequate food production for future generations and to help reverse of the effects of global warming.Carleenpdium_HRAslide

Last year, at the 2014 Human Rights Awards, Global Exchange awarded María Estela Barco Huerta with the International Honoree Award. Ms. Barco has played a leading role in organizing Agro-Ecology Learning Exchanges in Chiapas, Mexico at DESMI (Desarrollo Económico Social de los Mexicanos Indígenas), a Mexican non-governmental organization based in the state of Chiapas. These exchanges bring together activists from across Latin America to confront the challenges of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), encroaching agribusinesses, and loss of value and culture for peasant farmers in the region and to create innovative solutions. As Chiapas was and still is ‘ground zero’ for NAFTA and its devastating impact on Mexican agriculture, Ms. Barco’s work to create solutions for small indigenous farmers is crucial.

It’s through efforts such as DESMI and the Soil Not Oil Coalition that we can fight against the powerful entities that have a vested interest to sustain policies and practices that propagate damaged soils, dirty fossil fuels, and the downward spiral of global climate change.



  • Join us at the Soil Not Oil International Conference on September 4 & 5, 2015 in Richmond, CA. The conference is a cross-sector, inter-ethnic and multilevel gathering that will feature dozens of scientists, elected officials, policy makers, attorneys, farmers, environmentalists, journalists, researchers, community members and activists. Confirmed speakers include Vandana Shiva, Adelita San Vicente Tello, Miguel Altieri, Ignacio Chapela, John Wick, Devon Peña and Ray Seidler.
  • Then, join us for the Soil Not Oil Mass March on September 6, 2015 in San Francisco. This will be a mass march demanding urgent, large-scale action addressing climate chaos and dangerous agricultural practices that threaten our soil, air, water, and way of life.
  • Watch Maria Estela Barco’s speech here at the Global Exchange Human Rights Awards to learn more about the work of DESMI.
  • Join one of our Global Exchange Reality Tours that explore related issues, such as in Chiapas, Oaxaca, India, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Nepal.
  • And last but not least, sign up and join the Soil Not Oil Coalition!