During the Fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly on 11 -15 March 2019, countries adopted the ‘Sustainable Nitrogen Management’ resolution. The Government of India led the Resolution supported by South Asia Countries. Member States recognized that addressing nitrogen management is vital to meeting air quality, water quality, climate, stratospheric ozone and biodiversity goals, while offering a huge economic opportunity to reduce the $200 billion of reactive nitrogen that is wasted every year; and reduce eutrophic zones which is affecting the fishing and tourism industries.
The resolution was underpinned by the attached concept note and a chapter in the 2018/2019 Frontiers report: “The Nitrogen Fix: From Nitrogen Cycle Pollution to Nitrogen Circular Economy” launched by Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya on 4 March 2019. The Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM) under the Pollution-free Ecosystems Unit in United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will be the coordinating various activities and report progress achieved in the implementation of this resolution in UNEA-6.
The ‘Sustainable Nitrogen Resolution’ implementation plan is to first collaborate with relevant governments, UN organization supported by scientific and policy experts to explore options for better coordination of nitrogen policies across the globe. This will lead to sharing knowledge and Best Management Practices (BMPs) and emerging technologies on nitrogen recovery and recycling; and finally developing a ‘Global Nitrogen Reduction Plan’ that will assist member states to make informed decision-making towards ‘Sustainable Nitrogen Management’.
So far, a Sustainable Nitrogen Management Working Group has been established with 44 Countries representatives termed as ‘Focal Points’. The focal points will provide technical expertise and assist in developing a global nitrogen reduction plan among other outlined duties stated in the resolution. The First e-briefing for the Nitrogen Working Group of the United Nations Environment Programme was held on 8-9 June 2020 and discussed on the Proposal for an ad hoc Task Team to examine possible Terms of Reference for the Interconvention Coordination Mechanism (INCOM); and reviewed the updated Outline of the International Nitrogen Assessment (INA) was presented. A Second e-briefing for the Nitrogen Working Group of the United Nations Environment Programme is planned on Autumn 2021, TBC.
Further, on 23rd October 2019 in Sri Lanka, Colombo, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in partnership with the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka launched the UNITED NATIONS GLOBAL CAMPAIGN ON SUSTAINABLE NITROGEN MANAGEMENT. About 15 Member States participated and adopted the ‘Colombo Declaration’ under the title – Nitrogen for Life, link: https://papersmart.unon.org/resolution/uploads/colombo_declaration_final_24_oct_2019.pdf