Issue #15: July 2020


Nutrients are the basic building block of life. More than half the 7 Billion people on the planet are alive today, thanks to innovations on nutrients for agriculture and food. Inefficient use of nutrients has far reaching and cross cutting impacts – Water quality, Air quality, Greenhouse gases, Biodiversity and Soil quality.

Nitrogen Working Group commences with e-briefing

On 7-8 June 2020 the first e-briefing for the Nitrogen working group was convened to support the implementation of the UNEA4 Resolution on Sustainable Nitrogen Management. Over 160 delegates representing over 50 countries and key Conventions met online for an update on the International Nitrogen Assessment (INA) and guide the establishment of an Inter-Convention Nitrogen Coordination Mechanism (INCOM). As a follow-up, a Task Team will be established to define the INCOM Terms of Reference. The first e-briefing was convened under the auspices of the ongoing UNEP GEF- International Waters International Nitrogen Management System (INMS) project in collaboration with numerous partners. A presentation by UNEP Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land based Activities (GPA), with focus on the Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM), was made on the second day of the e-briefing. The UNEP Nitrogen Working Group will meet again in the Autumn of 2020, in the lead up to the Fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5).

e-briefing participants

Meeting documents are available at: https://papersmart.unon.org/resolution/UNEP-Nitrogen-Working-Group

Following the adoption of the Resolution on Sustainable Nitrogen Management, UNEP invited Member States to nominate focal points for a Working Group on implementation of the UNEA4 resolution on Sustainable Nitrogen Management. So far, around 40 nominations have been received from Member States, with the following breakdown per region: Africa (7), Asia Pacific (11), Europe (9), Latin America & Caribbean (6), West Asia (3), N. America (1).

Credit: https://unworldoceansday.org/2020

This year, the World Oceans Day, 8 June, was to be celebrated in Lisbon, under the theme “Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions”. The World Oceans Day was supposed to be held in conjunction with the UN Ocean Conference, which unfortunately was postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic. For the UN Ocean Conference, UNEP through Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) is a co-facilitator of Partnership Dialogue 1: Addressing marine pollution together with IMO. GPA and International Maritime Organization (IMO) have so far submitted an initial concept paper for consideration on Partnership Dialogue 1: Addressing marine pollution.

Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water - Adopted in 2015 as an integral aspect of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its set of 17 transformative goals, Goal 14 stresses the need to conserve and sustainably use the world’s oceans, seas and marine resources. Advancement of Goal 14 is guided by specific targets that focus on an array of ocean issues, including reducing marine pollution, protecting marine and coastal ecosystems, minimizing acidification, ending illegal and over-fishing, increasing investment in scientific knowledge and marine technology, and respecting international law that calls for the safe and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources.


Sargassum in the Caribbean and West Africa: Key Challenges, Responses and Collaboration

#1 Sargassum webinar flier

On 26th May 2020, the GPA Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM) in partnership with the UNEP Science Division, the Cartagena and Abidjan Conventions of the Regional Seas, as well as IOC-UNESCO, organized a webinar entitled “Sargassum in the Caribbean and West Africa: Key Challenges, Responses and Collaboration”. The purpose of this webinar was to highlight the emerging issue of Sargassum in the context of the Caribbean and West Africa, as well as highlight efforts of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) Working Group on Sargassum science, as well as build on outcomes of the recent Sargassum International Conference (Guadeloupe, October 2019). Over 700 registered for the webinar, with over 500 participating in the nearly 2-hour interactive webinar. Research shows that since 2011 there has been an explosion in the quantity of Sargassum seaweed reaching the shores of countries in the Caribbean and West Africa inflicting severe socio-economic impacts, particularly to the tourism sector and coastal fisheries. Tackling this trans-Atlantic problem will require regional and global coordinated action beyond national jurisdictions, which the UNEP's Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM) hopes to foster in the coming months.

Meeting report is available at: https://www.unenvironment.org/events/un-environment-event/sargassum-caribbean-and-west-africa-key-challenges-responses-and

Meeting proceedings

The Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM) on 21st July 2020 organized the second Sargassum webinar featuring ‘The Science of Sargassum’. The purpose of this webinar was to explore the scientific knowledge we have and the challenges we face in understanding and assessing increasing Sargassum occurrences. The webinar featured leading experts from different institutions working on Sargassum. Outcomes of the webinar will contribute to the development of a white paper which will feed into the planned GESAMP Open Science Meeting on Sargassum. Over 600 registered for the webinar, with 400 participating in the nearly 2-hour interactive webinar. Discussions featured the major causes of eutrophication leading to the Central Atlantic Sargassum blooms; high arsenic content in Sargassum addressed for agricultural use or general disposal; use of large scale satellite observation data sets to correlate Sargassum bloom intensity and occurrence; as well as the potential uses of Sargassum given the sheer quantity being washed up on the shorelines of the Caribbean. The third webinar in this series will be held on 22 September 2020, focusing on Sargassum challenges in West Africa.


Progress on the Implementation of the UN Global Campaign on Sustainable Nitrogen Management

Following The Government of Sri Lanka Launching of the Nitrogen campaign leading to the adoption of the ‘Colombo Declaration’. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has prepared a campaign Strategy which presents a communication roadmap for UNEP in its efforts to reduce nitrogen pollution on the marine environment. The focus of this Nitrogen campaign is to promote international cooperation, develop a consensus to introduce policies on Sustainable Nitrogen Management and sensitize the Nitrogen fix - Moving from ‘Nitrogen Cycle Pollution to Nitrogen Circular Economy’.

Since the 1980s, the amount of nitrogen in the environment has increased sharply. Globally, as a result of human activity, 200 million tonnes of nitrogen pour into the air, soil, and sea every year. Much of this nitrogen comes from excess use of fertilizers and the burning of fossil fuels. While nitrogen is associated with essential human activities, such as food production and transportation, we have overstepped the environmental limits, within which humanity can operate safely, in terms of how much we produce nitrogen. Today, we are generating new nitrogen 3,5 times above our planetary boundary.


Fifth Plenary Meeting of the ‘Towards INMS’ Project (INMS-5)

On 10 July 2020, the Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM) made a presentation in the concluding session of the Fifth Plenary Meeting of the Towards International Nitrogen Management System project (INMS) which attracted more than 90 participants from across the globe. The INMS Project, with funding support from the Global Environmental Facility, supports the implementation of the UNEA4 resolution on Sustainable Nitrogen Management. The overall expected outcome of the ‘Towards INMS’ project will develop the evidence base to showcase the need for effective practices for global nitrogen management and highlight options to maximize the multiple benefits of better nitrogen use.

List of virtual attendees

For further information at: http://www.nutrientchallenge.org/fifth-plenary-meeting-%E2%80%98towards-inms%E2%80%99-project-inms-5


12th GPNM Steering Committee Meeting

The Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM) organized its 12th Steering Committee Meeting on 12 May 2020. 11 members of the GPNM Steering Committee attended this virtual Steering Committee meeting, which covered GPNM progress, outlook and management. Detailed updates included, viz. progress on implementation of the UNEA-4 Resolution on Sustainable Nitrogen Management, the UN Global Campaign on Sustainable Nitrogen Management including the landmark Colombo Declaration which articulates an ambition to halve Nitrogen waste by 2030; the upcoming Our Phosphorus Future report, the upcoming Sargassum webinar as well as updates on the UNEP GEF INMS Project. A face-to-face meeting of the Steering Committee is planned for October 2020, in conjunction with the UNEP Annual CPR Sub-Committee meeting in the lead up to UNEA5, depending on the current covid19 situation.

Sinhalese Nitrogen MOOC - ONLINE!

EdX in close collaboration with South Asia Nitrogen Hub (SANH) has put together a Nitrogen Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in Sinhalese. The Course starts in July 30th 2020, please enroll at: https://courses.edx.org/register?course_id=course-v1%3AEdinburghX%2BNitrogen103%2B3T2020&enrollment_action=enroll&email_opt_in=false

Project approval: Development of a Near Real Time Monitoring System for Marine Coastal Eutrophication Using Google Earth Engine

Source:  Northwest Pacific Region Environmental Cooperation Center

Human activities and their negative impacts on coastal waters are increasingly threatening the integrity of coastal ecosystems. Coastal eutrophication association with increasing anthropogenic nutrient loading has been recognized as a global problem in need of collaborative work among countries and ocean experts for its remediation. For that reason, the United Nation Environmental Programme (UNEP) has been discussing an indicator for coastal eutrophication within the framework of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Chlorophyll-a (CHL) concentration is an important parameter in water quality monitoring and the UNEP has listed it in the “monitoring parameters for eutrophication to track the progress against SDG 14.1.1a”.

The UNEP Northwest Pacific Region Action Plan (NOWPAP) has been using satellite CHL to assess the coastal eutrophication, and in this process a long-term consistent data record is necessary for the identification of temporal trends. Given that the existing long-term global data sets are useful in eutrophication analysis, but they are available only at low spatial resolution (~4 km), it is important to continue placing efforts on making finer resolution data open and accessible to coastal managers to support their decisions. This study aims to use the Second-Generation Global Imager (SGLI) data set available at the 250 m resolution to investigate potential eutrophication areas on the global scale.

The Google Earth Engine (GEE) is a planetary-scale platform for Earth science data and analysis. Therefore, it enables the development of a real-time monitoring tool for eutrophication assessment on a global scale. The outcomes of this project will directly contribute to the integration of Earth observations and geospatial information through the framework of the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Initiative ‘Earth Observation in service of the 2030 Development Agenda and also thorough the implementation of NOWPAP as a part of UNEP’s Regional Seas Programme. The developed tool will be widely open to the public in the form of Earth Engine Apps for a near real-time monitoring and assessment of eutrophication.


New Study - Micro plastics found in fruit & vegetables

Source: Plastic Soup

©Plastic Soup Foundation

For years we have known about plastic in crustaceans and fish, but this is the first time we have known about plastic getting into vegetables. “If it is getting into vegetables, it is getting into everything that eats vegetables as well which means it is in our meat and dairy as well. “What we need to find out now is what this is doing to us. This is unchartered territory. Does plastic make us sick?”

Recent studies shows that apples are apples are the most contaminated fruit while carrots are the vegetables most affected. Plastics penetrates through the roots and after which they are transported to the edible above-ground plant parts. More research is needed to detect the direct impacts it has on human health.

For more information: https://www.plasticsoupfoundation.org/en/2020/06/new-studies-microplastics-found-in-fruit-and-veg/?utm_source=newsletter

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Zero Budget Natural Farming: Andhra Pradesh Government signs MoU with German firm KFW

Source: the Hindu business line

On January 9, 2020, the Andhra Pradesh Government signed Memorandum of Understanding with a German firm to implement Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) in the State. The state Government will take a loan of Rs 1015 crores to spend towards climate resilient Zero Budget Natural Farming. The project aims to cover 2.39 lakh farmers in 600 villages. The project was included in the Budget presentation of 2019. Along with ZBNF implementation, the Government will also implement Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.

For more information visit their website at: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/zero-budget-natural-farming-andhra-pradesh-government-signs-mou-with-german-firm-kfw/article30523190.ece


Nitrogen emissions along global livestock supply chains

Source:Nature foods

Global livestock supply chains have significantly altered nitrogen (N) flows over past years, thereby threatening environmental and human health. Most emissions originate from locally produced animal-sourced food, although N emissions embedded in international trade are significant for some importing countries. Given the magnitude of its impacts and its central role in both domestic and international N challenges, the livestock sector urgently requires a global initiative to tackle N pollution while supporting food security.

A comprehensive analysis of the contribution of the livestock sector to N emissions for the European Union found that livestock supply chains represented 82% of total agricultural NH3 emissions and 73% of all agricultural N emissions to water bodies. However, this study shows the N use in livestock supply chains and their contribution to global N emissions

Full article is available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-020-0113-y.epdf?sharing_token=0yIFvpxhxTOcdm8tGIFfHtRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0N2GufwSzuuCdZwNgB6aR9a8gmkgMXTwHR4TqbISzpztYrOyvQES98H8IbzaLCHu1WuVbmi355V60yGcud5mUMKx2u2pjOMbFSZCS9QuQgmoDQiiD82L5eSWyBSO2C3940%3D



Piloting Cartagena Convention Secretariat Questionnaire to record Sargassum sightings in the Wider Caribbean Region

The UNEP Cartagena Convention Secretariat, through its Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) Sub-Programme, is partnering with the University of South Florida to test an online questionnaire that records sargassum sightings in the Wider Caribbean Region. The form was developed in accordance with the University’s protocols. To assist us in this effort, please visit the following link to register your sightings of sargassum in the region: https://ee.kobotoolbox.org/x/uEYhY0n7.

Once downloaded, the form works with and without an internet connection and it can be viewed from any device or operating system.

Kindly share the link among your acquaintances or possible interested parties so that data can be collected to start monitoring the attention and mitigation of the possible impacts of sargassum bursts.

Likewise, your suggestions and feedback for improving this tool would be welcomed and valued. Share your comments with the UNEP Cartagena Convention Secretariat via the following e-mail address: unepcartagenaconvention@un.org


Animation video on Index of Coastal Eutrophication (ICEP) - IOC/UNESCO


The Fertilizer Industry and Sustainable Phosphorus Management


World Ocean Celebration in the Regions

In celebration of the World Oceans Day, the UNDP/GEF/UNOPS YSLME Phase II Project, in collaboration with various partners, is very pleased to launch today three (3) videos showcasing initiatives and innovations in the Yellow Sea region to:

  1. Crack down on the Small but Dangerous Micro plastics and Address Marine Litter in the Yellow Sea.See video here: http://www.yslmep.org/?aiovg_videos=yslme-marine-litter
  2. Promote Sustainable Mariculture through the Application of Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) showcasing the success story of Dongchu Island in China. See video here: http://www.yslmep.org/?aiovg_videos=yslme
  3. Save the Critically-Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpipers by Protecting and Restoring the Coastal Wetlands of the Yellow Sea. See video here: http://www.yslmep.org/?aiovg_videos=the-spoon-billed-sandpiper


New Publications

The GEF IW targeted research project (INMS) Project Under the leadership of the UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology, as the project executing agency, and Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM) as Implementing partners, launched a report entitled ''Global-scale modelling of flows and impacts of nitrogen use'', is the first of a series which will continue to summarize the findings of the project on a component per component basis.

Webinar: Demonstrating the Need of Sustainable Phosphorus Management in Lakes: Global Case Studies, 9 Sep 2020

Webinar 3: Sargassum Challenges and Responses in West Africa, 22 September 2020

13th GPNM Steering Committee Meeting, October 2020 (tbc)


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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nutrient challenge