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Nanjing Declaration Highlights Need For Action On Global Nitrogen Management

November 12, 2004 --

Reactive nitrogen is a potent force that possesses the ability to significantly improve and damage the quality of life for all the Earth’s inhabitants.  Recognizing this, a group of 400 environmental experts has formulated the Nanjing Declaration on Nitrogen Management, a global call to action for policy-makers at all levels of government, which it recently presented to the United Nations. The declaration urges development of a comprehensive approach to optimizing nitrogen management in food and energy production while minimizing the environmental impacts. The group gathered in Nanjing, China, from Oct. 12 through 16 for the Third International Nitrogen Conference. 

As the main constituent in modern fertilizer, reactive nitrogen is the key to the green revolution that sustains hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. As it cascades through the environment, however, it is responsible for the eutrophication of ecosystems, damage to the ozone layer and a host of conditions that undermine human health. “So far, nitrogen has been regarded as a regional problem in some agricultural and industrial areas of the world,” said James Galloway, chairman of the International Nitrogen Initiative, and environmental sciences professor at the University of Virginia. “The consensus of the experts we assembled for the conference was that many other areas show environmental impacts as the result of large leakages of nitrogen into the environment, even as there remain regions with too little nitrogen for sufficient food production.” 

Signaling the need for action at the very highest levels, the declaration was presented to Wenjuan Zhang, a representative of the United Nations Environmental Programme in the People’s Republic of China and will be sent to Klaus Töpfer, the executive director of UNEP, for consideration. The declaration also will be sent to corresponding agencies of national governments.

The International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) is a global effort to optimize nitrogen’s beneficial role in sustainable food production and to minimize nitrogen’s negative effects on human health and the environment. From a series of regional centers in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America, INI is pursuing a three-stage strategy that involves assessing knowledge on nitrogen flows and problems that result, developing region-specific solutions, and implementing scientific, engineering and policy tools.

Contacts: James Galloway, Chairman, International Nitrogen Initiative and University of Virginia professor, (434) 924-1303,,; Jan Willem Erisman, International Nitrogen Initiative, Coordinator European Nitrogen Center,,

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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