Session: Developing Indicators and Policies for Managing the Global Nitrogen Challenge
Establishing a new intergovernmental process to address global nitrogen challenge: Towards the Inter-convention Nitrogen Coordination Mechanism (INCOM)
Thursday, August 5, 2021
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Mark Sutton, Clare Howard, Nicole Read and Martha Schlegel, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Tapan K. Adhya, South Asia Nitrogen Centre, New Delhi, India, Tapan K. Adhya, School of Biotechnology, Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (Deemed University), Bhubaneswar, India, Jill Baron, US Geological Survey, Fort Collins, CO, Wim de Vries, Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Wageningen, Netherlands, Josette Garnier, Sorbonne Université, CNRS, EPHE, UMR, Paris, France, Kentaro Hayashi, Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan, David Hooper, Department of Biology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, David R. Kanter, Department of Environmental Studies, New York University, New York, NY, Cargele Masso and Hailemariam Giweta Mekonnen, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Yaoundé, Cameroon, Sergiy Medinets, Regional Centre for Integrated Environmental Monitoring (RCIEM), Odesa National I. I. Mechnikov University (ONU), Odesa, Ukraine, Lidiya Moklyachuk, Institute of Agroecology and Environmental Management (IAEM), National Academy of Agrarian Sciences of Ukraine (NAAS), Kyiv, Ukraine, Jean P.H.B. Ometto, Earth System Science Center (CCST), National Institute for Space Research (INPE), São José dos Campos, Brazil, Mahesh Pradhan, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Nairobi, Kenya, Ramesh Ramachandran, National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management, Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change, Government of India, Chennai, India, Alberto Sanz Cobeña, Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (UPM), Madrid, Spain, Hans van Grinsven, PBL Netherlands Environment Agency, The Hague, Netherlands, Xiaoyuan Yan, State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing, China, Isabelle Van der Beck, Ecosystems Division (International Waters), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Washington D.C., WA
UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Background/Question/Methods The GEF/UNEP project “Towards the International Nitrogen Management System” (INMS) is a science-support process for nitrogen policy development, addressing: I. Development of tools and methods for quantifying the nitrogen cycle, II. Scaling up to provide the global picture, including future scenarios, III. Regional demonstration of a ‘full-nitrogen approach’ across seven world regions, IV. Communication and awareness raising. This presentation focuses on IV, in relation to three key questions: 1) Why is there so little public awareness of nitrogen pollution? 2) What kind of information is needed from ecologists and other scientists to support global policy making? 3) How should a future intergovernmental process look like to be effective in addressing the global nitrogen challenge? Results/Conclusions Why so little nitrogen awareness? Multi-actor engagement and analysis conducted as part of INMS has shown a contradiction between a huge scientific knowledge versus little public and policy awareness. This appears to be driven by several major reasons: • Nitrogen is complex, with multiple sources, forms, impacts and solutions. This is attractive to scientists, but confusing for the public. • Scientists and policymakers tend to specialize, leading to fragmentation of nitrogen issues. • There has been insufficient ‘marketing’ by scientists of why nitrogen represents one of the most important challenges of the 21st century.
Efforts by INMS are addressing these concerns, showing how a joined-up approach can have multiple benefits for air, water, climate, food, energy and economy. This has resulted in the UN Resolution on Sustainable Nitrogen Management (UNEP/EA.4/Res.14) and the Colombo Declaration, where the latter identifies the ambition to ‘halve nitrogen waste’ from all sources globally by 2030, aiming to save US$100 billion annually. What are the information needs? Stakeholder engagement is showing the importance of addressing all forms of nitrogen pollution in an integrated way. INMS has produced the first UN Guidance Document on Integrated Sustainable Nitrogen Management (ECE/EB.AIR/2020/6). In parallel with new guidance underway on nitrogen indicators and flows, completion of the first International Nitrogen Assessment is planned for 2022. How should an intergovernmental process look? Four options were considered: i) Status quo of fragmentation between UN conventions, ii) one convention to take the lead, iii) a new nitrogen convention, and iv) a coordination mechanism to get the UN working more effectively together. The fourth option is now being developed, making the most of existing evidence/policies, working toward more coherent approach in the Interconvention Nitrogen Coordination Mechanism (INCOM).