New Delhi: For the first time, the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the main focus of the 8th triennial conference of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI). Postponed from May last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is being held virtually with over 800 scientists and other stakeholders from over 60 countries joining the conference during 31 May and 03 June 2021. 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), with the support of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, said a statement released by the INI.
“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. These compounds are lost from fertilizers, 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”, said Nandula Raghuram, Chair of the INI and Professor of biotechnology from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi. “INI conferences always brought together the latest science to call for governmental action and evidence-based policies. Our earlier conference declarations and nitrogen assessment projects led to the first ever UN resolution on sustainable nitrogen management piloted by Indian government in 2019”, he added.
The increasing inter-governmental attention to reactive nitrogen is evident from the programme posted on the conference website (ini2021.com). Apart from scientists and German government, the conference will be addressed by speakers from UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and UN Economic Commission on Europe (UNECE), among others. The website also carries a draft of the “Berlin Declaration” for comments, which will be finalized and adopted during the concluding session of the conference on 3rd June. 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 in November this year.
Prof. Tapan Adhya, Director of the INI South Asia Nitrogen Centre said “South Asia is one of the global hotspots for nitrogen pollution. 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. Millions of lives and livelihoods are affected by nitrogen pollution, apart from loss of fertilizers worth billions of dollars from farms”. (India Science Wire)