Sustainable Nitrogen Management for Healthy Oceans, Environment, and Economy
Nitrogen as a fertilizer has been a huge influence in feeding the global population. Increased crop production over the last century has also allowed substantial increases in livestock population, enriching human diets and producing many other products. Nitrogen however is also a pollutant and readily escapes into the environment resulting in adverse impacts to water quality, terrestrial and marine biodiversity, marine eutrophication, soil acidification, air quality issues as well as increasing the greenhouse gas balance.
In the marine and coastal zones nitrogen from agriculture run-off and waste water (sewage) causes an imbalance of nutrients which can lead to the formation of eutrophic conditions resulting in hypoxic conditions and the creation of so-called 'dead zones' in coastal waters. In 2011 the GEF STAP highlighted13 the increasing number of coastal hypoxic zones with a total of over 500 recorded. Coastal hypoxia kills or impairs marine ecosystems leading to reduced fishery production with impacts on human livelihoods and wellbeing