Issue #14: December 2019

Chair's Update

End year Message!

2019 comes to a very successful end for Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM), advancing towards the decade of the 2020s. It is time to reflect on the key successful outcomes in 2019 and to carry this forward with greater enthusiasm and strength to the new decade.

GPNM has seen several milestones this year. At the global level, the endorsement of the Resolution on Sustainable Nitrogen Management at UNEA-4 in March 2019, proposed by the Government of India is the most significant. This is in recognition of the need for multiple opportunities for better nitrogen management associated with water, air, climate, biodiversity, soils, stratospheric ozone, food and energy, including the need to develop improved coordination between relevant multi-lateral environmental agreements (MEAs). It was agreed that coordination is needed to address sustainable nitrogen management at three levels including the interactions between these levels:

  1. Intergovernmental co-ordination, especially between countries, conventions, other MEAs and stakeholders
  2. National co-ordination within countries, between different ministries, agencies and other stakeholders
  3. Provision of science and technical information in support of national and international policy processes, under the guidance of governments.

The GPNM Steering Committee and the Secretariat along with the UN Environment’s Global Programme of Action worked together towards the successful endorsement of the Resolution.

The GPNM was challenged with the growing nutrient problem (both nitrogen and phosphorus) at a global scale under the GEF-funded project on Global foundations for reducing nutrient enrichment and oxygen depletion from land based pollution, in support of Global Nutrient Cycle (GNC). This project has now officially concluded successfully, with three major achievements:

  1. Development of the Global nutrient management toolbox;
  2. Nutrient flow modelling through the application of the Global NEWS Model for Manila Bay
  3. Development and application of the Ecosystem Health Report Card for two ecosystems: Chilika Lagoon, India and Laguna de Bay, Philippines.

For the first time a Joint Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM) and Global Wastewater Initiative (GW2I) Meeting was conducted in April 2019 with the primary objective of fostering synergies and opportunities for future collaboration.

In addition, GPNM would continue to be a platform for sharing knowledge and capacity building. Training will therefore remain very relevant as the need for knowledge on nutrient management and use efficiency, remains a local, regional and global agenda.

2019 also saw the commencement of the South Asian Nitrogen Hub, a partnership led by the UK's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and comprising about 50 organizations from across South Asia and the UK, supported by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under its Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). This Hub will conduct research on nitrogen from agriculture, and other point and non-point- land based sources of nitrogen in eight countries - India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives. The Hub's research recommendations will help develop sustainable farming practices and a circular economy for nitrogen. GPNM will strive to expand such studies to other continents, where nitrogen pollution continues to dominate as a major pollutant.

At this time, I would like to place on record the incredible work of Christopher Cox, and thank him for his valuable contribution in expanding the activities of GPNM globally. At the same time, it is a great pleasure to welcome Mahesh Pradhan in his new role at GPNM and wish him all the success. The continued hard work and enthusiasm of Milcah Ndegwa is highly appreciated. To all the Members of the Steering Committee – a big thanks for your constant and continued support to GPNM and its activities.

I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy and successful 2020.

Ramesh Ramachandran


Global Consensus to Halve Nitrogen Waste by 2030

Group photo of the UN Global Campaign High-level Segment

The UN Global Campaign Launch on Sustainable Nitrogen Management was championed by the Government of Sri Lanka on 23 - 24 October 2019 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall, Colombo in Sri Lanka. The Deputy Executive Director of UN Environment Programme Ms. Joyce Msuya; Hon. Karu Jayasuriya, Speaker of the Parliament, Sri Lanka on behalf of H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, the president of Sri Lanka and Minister of Mahaweli Development and Environment; Mr. Anura Dissanayake, Secretary Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Sri Lanka; H.E. Mr Sunil de Silva, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UNON, UNEP; and UN-Habitat; among other senior government officials were present under the theme “Everywhere And Invisible ; Halve Nitrogen Waste by 2030”. The meeting attractive global participation of about 31 Member States and over 1200 local and regional scientist community. The meeting was co-organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) through the Coordination Office of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), which provides the Secretariat of Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded International Nitrogen Management System (INMS), and the Government of Sri Lanka

The Sustainable Nitrogen Management resolution, led by the Government of India, during the Fourth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-4), Member States acknowledged that reactive nitrogen has adverse pollution impacts on terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments. Poor nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) management contributes to world's food security.

The outcome of the UN Global Campaign Launch on Sustainable Nitrogen Management was adoption of the Colombo Declaration which called on countries to consider developing national roadmaps for sustainable nitrogen management, conduct comprehensive assessments on qualitative and qualitative nitrogen cycling, promote innovative technologies for nitrogen use and cycling, while conducting capacity building activities to sensitive citizens on sustainable agricultural practices with ambition to halve nitrogen waste by 2030.

Further, a proposed roadmap for Action on Sustainable Nitrogen Management 2020 - 2022 was endorsed. In addition, the Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM) has received nominations from over 30 Member States to serve as national focal points for the working group on sustainable nitrogen management. Planning for the first inception meeting of the working group is ongoing, in close collaboration with GEF/INMS and other partners.

The Deputy Executive Director of UN Environment Programme Ms. Joyce Msuya and Mr. Anura Dissanayake, Secretary Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, Sri Lanka participated in a press release, available at: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/colombo-declaration-calls-tackling-global-nitrogen-challenge

In addition to Ms. Joyce Msuya speech available at: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/speech/launch-un-global-campaign-sustainable-nitrogen-management. Interview with Ms. Joyce Msuya and Prof. Mark Sutton is below:

For more information on the campaign, please visit: https://papersmart.unon.org/resolution/sustainable-nitrogen-management

To crown the launch of the United Nations Global Campaign on Sustainable Nitrogen Management, Grammy Award winner singer and song writer Ricky Kej, performed the world first ever 'Nitrogen Song'. Please listen to the song below:


Environment and health impacts of pesticides and fertilizers

Participants at the fertilizer consultative meeting in Geneva

The Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM) participated in the second consultative meeting in preparation of the report on the environment and health impacts of Pesticides and Fertilizers to be presented to UNEA-5 from 21 to 22 November 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. The objective of the meeting was to follow-up on the draft report by UN Environment Programme, in collaboration with FAO and WHO, on health and environmental impacts of pesticides and fertilizers and ways to minimize them to be presented at the 5th UN Environment Assembly. The report included several chapters of concern, including chapter 7 on “Status and Trends of Fertilizer Use,” which highlighted types of fertilizers and the use of Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers (EEFs). Specifically, EEFs are defined as “fertilizer products with characteristics that allow increased plant uptake and reduce the potential of nutrient losses to the environment (e.g., gaseous losses, leaching, or runoff) when compared to an appropriate reference product.”

Several chapters of the report have been partially drafted and are available for your review. You can access and download the chapters, and other working documents, at: http://bit.ly/UNEA-PF_downloads


Towards a UN Roadmap for Sustainable Nitrogen Management, 2020-2022

Participants at the side event

On 7 October 2019, the Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM) jointly with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded International Nitrogen Management System (INMS) organized a side event on the margin of the 6th Annual Subcommittee meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives in Nairobi, Kenya. H.E. Mr. Rahul Chabbra, High Commissioner& Permanent Representative to UNEP, India presented on India’s vision for sustainable nitrogen management – following up the UNEA-4 resolution; and H.E. Sunil de Silva, High Commissioner and Permanent Representative High Commissioner& Permanent Representative to UNEP, Sri Lanka highlighted Sri Lanka role on Championing the nitrogen challenge – preparations for launching the UN nitrogen campaign.

The event provided an update to the recently adopted Resolution on Sustainable Nitrogen Management; the fourth session of the International Nitrogen Management System (INMS-4) including a high-level segment on 29-30 April 2019, leading to the development of a proposed Roadmap for Sustainable Nitrogen Management, 2020-2022; Updated members of the CPR and others on current progress to the launch of a UN campaign on Sustainable Nitrogen Management; Highlighting Elements of the proposed Colombo Declaration; and Discussed emerging options for establishment of a Working Group under CPR to prepare the Terms of Reference for establishment of a potential “Inter-convention Nitrogen Co-ordination Mechanism.


Proposed guidance document on sustainable nitrogen management

Image left -right:©iStockphoto/Thinkstock; ©dream79/Fotolia

The Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM) through its partnership participated in the European Commission and the Task Force on Reactive Nitrogen (TFRN) under the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Trans-boundary Air Pollution workshop on integrated sustainable nitrogen management from 30 September to 1 October 2019. The workshop took place in follow up to the initiative launched in 2016 to develop a guidance document on sustainable nitrogen management, taking into account pollution into air, water and soil in an integrated way. Among the outcomes of the meeting are identifying the purpose and process for developing the guidance document; Principles of integrated and sustainable Nitrogen management; Housed livestock, manure storage, manure processing; Field application of organic and inorganic fertilizers; and Land use and landscape management.

For further information, you can refer to the 2016 workshop report at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/towards_nitrogen_guidance_workshop_report_2016.pdf


Should we fertilize oceans or seed clouds? No one knows

Source: GESAMP Working Group 41. High Level Review of a Wide Range of Proposed Marine Geoengineering Techniques

Over the years, our oceans have experienced excessive richness of nutrients from land-based activities. This had fueled excessive growth of algae as a result of global water warming from adverse climate change patters; depleting oxygen from the water body causing dead-zones. This process is known as eutrophication.

Due to the adverse effects to the marine ecosystems, marine geoengineering researchers have explored innovative technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the ocean. Some of the proposed technologies include: fertilizing water with iron which would speed up the growth of phytoplankton and thus take up Carbon Dioxide; Another proposal is to to spray seawater into the air to form clouds that would reflect sunlight and cool the planet among others.

Adapted from go.nature.com/2BKSDNN

The United Nations Joint Group of Experts on Scientific Aspects on Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) set up a working group in 2016 to look at the potential ecological and social impacts of about 27 proposed marine geoengineering technologies. In a GESAMP report published in March 2019, there was found little knowledge of an appropriate technology to recommend. Thus called on researcher to build on proposed technologies and identify knowledge gaps; develop a portfolio with potential benefits and consequences of each proposed technology; Strengthen collaboration between researchers and policy makers to develop scientific criteria for evaluating risks; and conduct test for some of the technologies, if passed present them in governance platforms such as London Protocol.


Code of conduct for sustainable use and management of fertilizers

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)


On 13 September 2019, 13/09/2019 the International Code of Conduct for the Sustainable Use and Management of Fertilizers was endorsed by member countries at the 41st session of the FAO Conference. The Fertilizer Code was developed in response to a request by the 25th session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) for FAO to strengthen its work on food safety and the safe use of fertilizers and pesticides. It also responds to the third UN Environment Assembly (UNEA3) declaration on soil pollution and supports the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management (VGSSM).

The Code aims to guarantee an effective and efficient use of fertilizers and address issues of global importance including:

  • Global food production and food security;
  • The preservation of fundamental ecosystem services;
  • The maximization of economic and environmental benefits;
  • The reduction of negative impact of excess nutrients in ground and surface waters;
  • The minimization of negative effects and potential toxicity of contaminants in fertilizers;
  • The improvement of food safety, diets, nutritional quality and human health.

FAO Members and other relevant stakeholders are encouraged, with the guidance to translate the Fertilizer Code into effective actions through the development of regulations, awareness raising programmes and other concrete outputs to help with the broad dissemination of the principles addressed in the Code. The FAO will naturally support the implementation of the Fertilizer Code by formulating tools to facilitate its implementation and by carrying out case studies to demonstrate its effects.

Download the document in: العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Русский | Español


UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021 - 2030

Source: UN Environment Programme

The urgent need to restore the ecosystem is fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, mainly those on food security, climate change, poverty eradication, water and biodiversity conservation. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration has identified the most urgent challenging for action:

  • Health ecosystems - includes forests, mangroves and peatlands
  • Healthy soils - promoting nutrients use efficiency to produce more crop yields
  • Restoring coastal and marine ecosystems
  • Restoring 350 hectares of degraded landscapes by 2030
  • Protecting and restoring wildlife and plant species threatened with extinction

Following the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decision in March 2019, proclaimed 2021-2030 as the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Led by El Salvador together with over 70 countries, acknowledged the following actions to:

  1. Set clear, traceable goals - leaders were called to be ambitious, bold and creative in restoring millions of hectares of degraded landscapes by 2030
  2. Get everyone involved - Benefit from a wide diversity of skills, knowledge and experience
  3. Have a keen eye to what's happening on the ground

For more information visit their website at: https://www.decadeonrestoration.org/


The fertilizer industry contemplates the future of agriculture

Source:International Fertilizer Association (IFA)

The International Fertilizer Association (IFA) recently embarked in a strategic planning exercise called IFA2030 to better understand what will shape the future of the agricultural sector and fertilizer industry.

Drawing upon the valuable and diverse input from IFA Members and distinguished experts from government, science and NGOs, gathered through workshops and surveys, IFA defined four Scenarios that take into consideration the biggest shifts happening in the technical, scientific, economic, environmental and political spheres and that will impact the agricultural sector in the run up to 2030 and beyond.

The four Scenarios highlight large-scale forces, such as innovation, fertilizer demand shifts, and farmers’ evolving plant nutrition needs that will have important implications across the sector. The fertilizer industry is also aware of increased regulatory pressures and demands for transparency and accountability, and is taking active steps to address them.

The IFA2030 Scenarios were designed to facilitate discussions among various stakeholders (including governments, regulators, customers, civil society), to help identify what is driving change and to find a shared vision for the future. Their outcomes and insights can be used by companies or industries wishing to carry out similar strategic planning exercises.

Read more about the Scenarios and their implications here.


Why nitrogen management is key for climate change mitigation

Source: UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

Run-off caused by rainfall washing fertilizer from agricultural land can end up polluting lakes and causing algal blooms which emit greenhouse gases. Photo by Eric Vance, US EPA

Urbanization has increased demand for more food production which has increased ammonia (NH3) emissions from agricultural practices; transport, industry and energy sectors leading to high level of Nitrous Oxide (N2O) which is 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide a greenhouse gas. While major efforts have been made to reduce Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) from vehicles and energy generation, emissions are still escalating in rapidly developing parts of the world. NO­x is an indirect greenhouse gas, because the deposition of emitted NOx results in otherwise natural ecosystems emitting more nitrous oxide.

We need global political will to reduce nitrogen emissions to nitrogen to our agricultural and environmental systems in efforts to combat climate change. Scotland in the United Kingdom is one of a country to include a nitrogen budget in its 2019 Climate Change Bill,” says Keesje Avis, Senior Policy Officer with Nourish Scotland, a charity that has been raising awareness on this issue. “The Bill’s goal is to reduce Scotland’s net greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2045.”

For more information, visit: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/why-nitrogen-management-key-climate-change-mitigation


FROM DATA TO ACTION: The World Environment Situation Room

Source: UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

In efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), new data, social media platforms and satellite technologies have emerged which requires real time coverage. This has triggered discussions among countries and experts on how they can easily access UN Environment Programme (UNEP) new research at one stop-shop.

To address this challenge, in March 2019 during the Fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4), Ministers of Environment called on the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to develop a global environmental data strategy by 2025 in collaboration with other relevant UN bodies. Further, requesting UNEP to improve its existing data repository to provide repository functions and open access to the best available environmental data that is timely, quality-assured, credible and relevant. It is from this mandate that the concept of a 'World Environment Situation Room (WESR)' emerged.

The vision of WESR is fully aligned with UNEP's mandate in 1972 during inception 'to keep the world environmental situation under review'. For more information, please visit the website at: https://environmentlive.unep.org/wesr/

Relevant new publication:

  1. Resource Efficiency: Potential and Economic Implication


Mr. Mahesh Pradhan has recently re-joined the UN Environment Programme as the Programme Management Officer, Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM), under the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land Based Activities (GPA) in UN Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

Prior to this assignment, Mahesh was based at the UNEP's International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC) in Osaka, Japan. IETC leads UNEP's thematic work on holistic waste management


South Asian Nitrogen Hub Plenary meeting (SANH-2), University of Perideniya, Sri Lanka, 10-13 March 2020.

The 5th International Nitrogen Management System (INMS) meeting, Berlin, Germany, 30 April - 02 May 2020

The 8th International Nitrogen Conference, Berlin, Germany, 03 - 07 May 2020

4th European Sustainable Phosphorus Conference (ESPC4), Vienna, 15-17 June 2020.


Fertilizer and Pesticide use in Kenya

The Food Challenge

Bitter Harvest:

In addition, you can find further information about the Route to Food Initiative here: https://www.routetofood.org/

Link to the White Paper on Pesticide use in Kenya (one of the 2 handouts at the screening): https://routetofood.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/RTFI-White-Paper-Pesticides-in-Kenya.pdf


The Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM) is a multi-stakeholder partnership comprising of governments, the private sector, the scientific community, civil society organizations and UN agencies committed to promoting effective nutrient management (with a focus on nitrogen and phosphorus) to achieve the twin goals of food security through increased productivity and conservation of natural resources and the environment. UN Environment, through the Coordination Office of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), provides the Secretariat of GPNM. Read more at: www.nutrientchallenge.org. For more information contact Mahesh Pradhan at mahesh.pradhan@un.org or Milcah Ndegwa at milcah.ndegwa@un.org

JOIN the GPNM! Access the application form here.

Website: https://www.unenvironment.org/explore-topics/oceans-seas/what-we-do/addressing-land-based-pollution/global-partnership-nutrient

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