Australian awarded top world soil medal

The Hon Penelope Wensley AC

The Hon Penelope Wensley AC, Patron of Soil Science Australia and of the Soil CRC, has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal at the Centennial Celebration and Congress of the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) held in Florence, Italy.

The IUSS medal recognises world leaders who have translated soil science into action, and who have contributed significantly to the promotion and reinforcement of public policies for soil resource preservation.

Ms Wensley has had a long and highly distinguished career of public service: as a diplomat for forty years (1968-2008), representing Australia in a wide range of overseas postings and policy positions; as the State Governor of Queensland (2008-2014); and for the past decade (2014-2024), in diverse leadership roles, focused on international relations and protection of the environment.

Support for science and research and the need for public policy to be evidence-based and informed by sound science has been a consistent feature of Ms Wensley’s advocacy and policy work for more than three decades.

In her many leadership roles, Ms Wensley has had a remarkable impact elevating the profile of soil and soil science and advocating for the preservation and better management of this precious resource. Former recipients of the Award include the Global Soil Partnership of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 2022; Dr Taolin Zhang, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China in 2021; Dr Franz Fischler, Former Minister of Agriculture of Austria and Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries of the European Union in 2020; and Mr Antonio Walker and Mrs Carolina Schimdt Ministers of Agriculture and Environment of Chile in 2019.

The Hon Penelope Wensley AC is a well-deserved recipient of the 2024 IUSS Distinguished Service Medal, and Soil Science Australia thanks her for her contributions.