Over the last few years, the increased rush on farmland has demonstrated just how precious and scarce soil is. However, seldom are public awareness and the need for action so far apart as is the case with “soil”. The authors of this edition of Rural 21 first of all demonstrate the wide range of ecosystem services that the essential and finite resource of soil performs and show the dramatic effects that poor governance of transformation of soils has – in all areas of human life. The second part then takes up sustainable land management practice. Finally in the third part we look at the political level. There con tinues to be a lack of an international and legally binding policy framework for the regulation of soil protection. Why are the inter- national community as well as individual countries so reluctant to reach such an agreement, as called for at the Rio+20 Conference last year?