Issue #17: July 2021


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.


On 31 May to 3 June 2021, Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM) participated on the 8th Global Nitrogen Conference (INI) originally scheduled 3-7 May 2020, which unfortunately was postponed in view of the Covid19 situation. The event was hosted by the German Federal Environment Ministry and the Federal Environment Agency. Leticia Carvalho, Head of the Marine and Freshwater Branch, represented Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP as a keynote speaker during the opening ceremony.

The focus of INI 2021 was Nitrogen and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This follows the landmark UNEA4 resolution on “Sustainable Nitrogen Management" and the “Colombo Declaration”. The outcome of the meeting was adoption of “Berlin Declaration on Nitrogen”. The declaration is available at: https://ini2021.com/berlin-declaration/

The 2021 World Environment Day (WED) was hosted by Pakistan in collaboration with UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on the theme of “Ecosystem Restoration” with focus on resetting our relationship with nature. Ecosystem restoration means assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as conserving the ecosystems that are still intact; to have richer biodiversity, more fertile soils, bigger yields of timber and fish, with less pollution and greenhouse gases.

The WED-21 also marked the formal launch of UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, for protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world.

On 4th June 2021 leading up to the World Environment DAY (5th June 2021), UNEP's Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM) organized a Webinar on Sustainable Nitrogen Management for Ecosystem Restoration. Almost 900 participated in the webinar co-organized by the UNEP’s Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM), Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan aims at spreading awareness on Sustainable Nitrogen Management and Ecosystem Restoration, in collaboration with UNEP, South Asia Nitrogen Hub (SANH), International Nitrogen Management System (INMS), International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) and the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (UAF). Keynote statements included:

  • Nitrogen and Ecosystem Restoration: Catalysing change through the South Asian Nitrogen Hub;
  • Developing the Roadmap for Sustainable Nitrogen Management in South Asia;
  • Berlin Declaration on Nitrogen;
  • South Asia: a hotspot for Nitrogen pollution;
  • Sustainable Nitrogen management from catchment to coast;
  • Nitrogen Pollution: Pakistan’s perspective and way forward.

The recorded video message from Joyce Msuya, the Deputy Executive Director of UNEP is available here.

#5 Sargassum Webinar

On 10th June 2021, the UNEP’s Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM) and UNEP’s Science Division in collaboration with Cartagena Convention, Abidjan convention, IOC UNESCO and other country representatives organized the Fifth Sargassum webinar, entitled “The Sargassum Challenge: Opportunities for collaboration between West Africa and the Wider Caribbean Region”.

This webinar, which was the fifth and last of the series, focused on exploring opportunities for collaboration between West Africa and the Wider Caribbean region on tackling the Sargassum influx. Notably, in 2018, the Caribbean witnessed the largest macro algae bloom recorded in history, an 8, 850 km long mass extending from the central Atlantic and Caribbean Sea to West Africa and the Gulf of Mexico. Belts of Sargassum, circulated by ocean currents, regularly wash ashore in these regions, where they rot on the beaches which is detrimental to people, ecosystems and economies

Over 545 registered for this webinar, with 250 participating in the 2-hour long interactive webinar. Discussions included, amongst others, opportunities for collaboration on Sargassum science, assessment and monitoring, mainstreaming Sargassum policy at the regional and global levels and the launch of Sargassum White Paper for the Caribbean.

Photo credit: Karen Parker

The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021. The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

On 27-29 April 2021 the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) supported the British High Commission in Colombo and the Government of Sri Lanka in organizing a virtual pre-COP26 event: Nitrogen for Climate and Green Recovery. This included launching the #NitrogenforNetZero initiative which seeks to mobilize action on nitrogen for climate in preparation for COP-26. Leticia Carvalho, Head of UNEP's Marine and Freshwater Branch participated in the opening session of this pre-COP26 event.

13th GPNM Steering Committee meeting

The Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM) organized its 13th Steering Committee Meeting (virtual) to reflect on 2020 achievements; 2021 Outlook; and Future opportunities. The Steering Committee commended progress of GPNM despite Covid19 challenges, and provided guidance on the outlook and opportunities for GPNM. Meeting report is available here.

The fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly

UN Member States and Major Groups Stakeholder gathered virtually on February 22-23 2021for the Fifth Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) under the theme: Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The theme called for strengthened action to protect and restore nature and the nature-based solutions to achieve the SDGs in its three complementary dimensions (social, economic and environmental). UNEA-5 also provided an opportunity for Member States and Stakeholders to take ambitious steps towards building back better and greener by ensuring that investments in economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic contribute to sustainable development. In-depth discussions are planned in the second-step of the UNEA-5 on 28 February – 2 March 2022.

Photo: IISD - Saturday Highlight of SPBF

UN Science-Policy-Business Forum

Prior to UNEA-5, UNEP organized the Third Science Policy Business Forum (SPBF) on 18-20 February 2021. Over 5,000 people participated in highly interactive sessions, including 126 expert speakers from all key sectors who identified key opportunities for the shift to sustainable consumption and production to address the three planetary crises as identified by UNEP’s Medium-Term Strategy – climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

The final day of the UN Science-Policy-Business Forum focused on nature-positive food systems before a closing session devoted to making peace with nature: the defining task of the 21st century. On 20th February 2021 GPNM facilitated the organization of discussions on Promoting nutrient use efficiency during the Science Policy Business Forum (SPBF) Session on Nature-positive Food Systems for a Healthy Planet and Healthy People. Announcement of an upcoming report, “Appetite for Change,” linking food choices to nitrogen, in conjunction with the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021” was made during the session. The session recording is available Here

Implementation of the UNEA-4 Resolution on Sustainable Nitrogen Management

Following the adoption of the Fourth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) Resolution on Sustainable Nitrogen Management in 2019, Member States and Major Groups Stakeholders have jointly advanced their activities towards Nutrients Use Efficiency such as:

  • On 26 January 2021, GPNM participated in an inception e-Meeting for the Terms of Reference Task Team of the Inter-convention Nitrogen Coordination Mechanism (INCOM). This meeting introduced the Task Team members and identified key anticipated characteristics of INCOM with a focus on broad principles and approach.
  • On 10th February 2021, GPNM participated in the Second e-meeting for the Terms of Reference Task Team of the Inter-convention Nitrogen Coordination Mechanism (INCOM), in relation to the implementation of the UNEA-4 Resolution on Sustainable Nitrogen Management. Participants discussed on the procedures for developing a Terms of Reference for INCOM; key characteristics of INCOM; and potential INCOM funding mechanisms.

Discussions are ongoing on organizing the second e-meeting for the Nitrogen Working Group of the United Nations Environment Programme in the third quarter of 2021, following the first e-briefing in June 2020. The second e-briefing will present the nominated Task Team Members, adopted Terms of Reference for the INCOM, and discuss on possible funding opportunities for supporting Nutrients activities.

Lastly, the Democratic Socialist Republic Of Sri Lanka is organizing an informal briefing on the second-half of 2021 with 15 member states associated with the Colombo Declaration. The Colombo Declaration calls upon UN agencies, other international organizations, development partners, philanthropic agencies, academic and civil society organizations to support its implementation. It further urges countries to conduct a comprehensive assessment on nitrogen cycling covering policy, implementation, regulation, and scientific aspects at a national level plus sensitize the citizens to understand the natural nitrogen cycle and how human impacts alter its balance.

COBSEA Nutrient Reduction Strategy

The Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) concluded a desk study review in its nine countries namely: Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. The study was conducted through desk research and country consultations to identify national and regional nutrient reduction commitments and targets, measures, and related monitoring and assessment in COBSEA countries, which will complement global efforts on nutrient management.

The outcome of the study showed that Yangtze and Pearl River deltas; and Liaodong and Bohai Bays, China are highly eutrophicated areas and this is contributed by existing gaps such as lack of data and knowledge; Research and analytical capacity; Insufficient understanding of non-point sources – research, hard and soft technology; and Insufficient waste management approaches. COBSEA Strategic Directions 2018-2022 provides an opportunity for East Asia Countries to:

  1. Develop regional guideline for identifying and addressing sources of nutrients, sediments and wastewater;
  2. Provide policy and information exchange platforms, including sharing of outputs, results and best practice from projects addressing land-based sources of pollution, including activities towards implementation of the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the South China Sea;
  3. Conduct technical training and capacity building

Pre - UN Food Systems Summit

In September 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will convene a Food Systems Summit as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development​ Goals (SDGs). The Summit will help establish the future direction for food systems in our world and inspire action to help all people get there. With only 10 years remaining, many of the 17 SDGs remain far out of reach.

The Summit process will draw on the best evidence, ideas, and experiences from around the world to inform new, more sustainable directions for food systems. 2021 Food Systems Pre-Summit is organized on 26-28 July 2021 in Rome, Italy. The Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM) will jointly organize an affiliated event on 28th July entitled: Sustainable Nitrogen Management for Sustainable Food Systems. More information available Here.

Background pic credits: WBCSD news articles


The 24th edition of UNEP’s Foresight Brief

Source: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP Foresight Briefs

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched its 24th edition of UNEP’s Foresight Brief focusing on floating sargassum seaweed and aims to support the sargassum paradigm shift from a ‘brown tide’ hazard to a ‘golden jewel’ opportunity.

Ongoing research shows that the Sargassum seaweed itself is not harmful; floating Sargassum at sea is beneficial as a unique habitat. However, it is the mass stranding of Sargassum on coastlines and ensuing decomposition that is highly detrimental, to people, ecosystems, and economies.

Notably, in 2021, an estimated 5.1 and 4.6 million metric tonnes of Sargassum have been observed in the tropical Atlantic in January and February respectively with a stark increase to 10.1 million metric tonnes in March.

This clearly shows the importance of conservation and restoration of our oceans and its entire ecosystem – as highlighted during 2021 World Environment Day on 5 June, under the theme of “Ecosystem Restoration” and the 2021 World Oceans Day on 8 June, under the theme “The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods”


Sargassum White Paper

Source:United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - Cartagena Convention


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) through Cartagena Convention has launched Sargassum White Paper: Turning the Crisis into an Opportunity. The White Paper is a compilation of background information for a strategic status update and critical situational analysis that informs and elicits feedback from key regional stakeholders in Caribbean region. This paper will be a living document intended to be regularly updatedwith new emerging technologies and best management practices for Sargassum influx.


Welcoming Tessa Goverse

Tessa Goverse is the new Chief of Pollution-free Ecosystems Unit with the Marine and Freshwater Branch, effective 1 June 2021. The Unit was formerly named Global Programme of Action (GPA). Tessa joined UNEP in 2000 as part of the Global Environment Outlook team, further served in a number of roles throughout her twenty years of career in UNEP. Before her appointment to her new role, she served as Coordinator of the Chemicals, Waste and Air Quality sub-programme.

Farewell to Habib El-Habr

Habib El-Habr retires from UNEP after 32 years of service. Prior to his retirement, Habib was the Coordinator, Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land Based Activities (GPA) from June 2016 - April 2021. Before then, he worked as a senior officer in various positions within UNEP.

New Interns

Lydiah Jwan joined the GPA team in May 2021 as an intern. She will be supporting the Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM) for the next six (6) months. Currently enrolled at the African Leadership University, she hopes to graduate in the coming few months with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business and Trade with a concentration on environmental sustainability. Welcome to the team, Lydiah!

Jinrui Wang joined the GPA team in April 2021 as an intern. She will be supporting the Global Partnership on Nutrients Management (GPNM) for the next six (6) months. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Translation and Interpretation and two Master’s degrees - a) Master’s degree in Translation and; b) Master’s degree in Public Administration. Welcome to the team, Jinrui!



Report launch: Global assessment of soil pollution

Credit: FAO

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Institute of Technical and Professional Studies (ITPS) and Global Soil Partnership came together on 4th June 2021 to launch the Global Assessment of Soil Pollution report. This global report and its summary for policy makers are the product of an inclusive process. They were both prepared in response to Resolution 3/6 ‘Managing soil pollution to achieve sustainable development’ of the third session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-3) in December 2017 and its subsequent request to develop an assessment of this major threat. This urgency was reiterated during the Global Symposium on Soil Pollution in May 2018. Since then, hundreds of scientists and policy makers from around the world came together to provide the science and policy behind soil pollution and its impacts on human health, the environment and food security.

Atmospheric acidity impacts oceanic ecology

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Recent research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA) shows that nutrients overflow affects the productivity of the oceans and its ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. This lead to increased acidity in the atmosphere which further disrupts the ecology balance of the oceans.

Full article is available Here.

100th issue of China Agri-food News Digest

Credit: UK SAIN

Full digest is available Here

What do you know about phosphorus and farming?

Take the quiz Here


Joint FAO- IFA Webinar: Fertigation – a tool to simultaneously improve water and nutrient use efficiency, 13 July 2021

Pre - UN Food Systems Summit: GPNM Side Event, 26-28 July 2021

Informal Consultation meeting of fifteen (15) countries associated with Colombo Declaration, July 2021 (tbc)

UN Food Systems Summit, Sept 2021

The 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the UNFCCC, 01 - 12 November 2021


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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