The International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) 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.Several INI scientists are leading authors of the Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM) keystone document A cross cutting contribution to sustainable development. Global advocacy for productive discussion and action by countries and their stakeholders, compiled to provide the foundations for sustainable nutrient management. It will be used for further outreach and to stimulate related partnerships and stakeholder engagement at national and regional level. 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. The document was presented at the 5th International Nitrogen Conference (N2010) http://n2010.org/, organized by INI and its South Asia regional centre, on 3-7 December 2010 in New Delhi, India.N2010 enabled INI to bring together its contributions to the Global Nitrogen Assessment. As a first step in the INI assessment process, priority has been given to initiate regional nitrogen assessments. The European INI centre is now involved in finalizing the European Nitrogen Assessment; the South and East Asian and North American INI centres have undertaken strategic discussions this year; and the African INI centre has begun a nitrogen rapid assessment project.