Daily News Analysis

Global Nitrogen Conference

4th June, 2021 Environment

GS PAPER II: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Context: Eighth Global Nitrogen Conference focuses on sustainable development goals

  • The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were the main focus of the eighth triennial conference of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI).
  • Assessing and managing nitrogen compounds sustainably were considered as crucial to achieve the 17 UN SDGs targeted for 2030
  • Also for the first time since the inception of INI two decades ago, its conference being hosted by Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt–UBA).
  • The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety is supporting the UBA.

Need for this initiative:

  • Reactive nitrogen compounds like NOx, ammonia and the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide impact air, water and soil quality, health, biodiversity and climate change, among others.
  • Millions of lives and livelihoods are affected by nitrogen pollution, apart from loss of fertilisers worth billions of dollars from farms.
  • These compounds are lost from fertilisers, manures and sewage as well as from fuel burning in transport and industry.
  • Assessing and managing them sustainably will be crucial to achieve the 17 UN SDGs targeted for 2030.
  • Nitrous oxide has upto 300 times higher global warming potential than carbon dioxide and the UK government is highlighting it in the run up to the UNFCC COP26 to be held at Glasgow.
  • The Indian nitrogen assessment of 2017 has provided a huge impetus to the UN resolution, as well as to the ongoing South Asian nitrogen assessment.

International Nitrogen Initiative

  • It was established formally in 2003 to review the current understanding of the nitrogen cycle and to interact with decision makers and practioners in order to identify management options that optimize the use of nitrogen fertilizers while minimizing the negative effects of nitrogen on human health and the environment as a result of food and energy production.
  • INI is a global network of scientists, created and sponsored by SCOPE and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), with regional centres in Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa, South and East Asia.
  • This GPNM foundation document underscores the INI foci on global and regional nitrogen (nutrient) assessments as an important catalyst in meeting the nutrient challenge and building policy support.