INMS letter to UN Secretary-General

Mr. António Guterres

Secretary General                     

United Nations Headquarters

New York                                                                                                                             23 October 2019


Dear Mr Guterres,

Global action on nitrogen is essential to tackle the current environmental crisis

As representatives of the global scientific community, we draw your attention to the global nitrogen challenge facing humanity. If we want to beat climate change, air pollution, water pollution, biodiversity loss, soil degradation and stratospheric ozone depletion, then a new focus on nitrogen will be vital.

The present environmental crisis is much more than a carbon problem. Nitrogen is almost everywhere relevant across the Sustainable Development Goals, but is currently invisible. Nitrogen poses a threat to the health of humans, animals and plants, and to livelihoods globally. It has many forms: ammonia and nitrogen dioxide are dangerous air pollutants, nitrate is devastating ecosystems in our rivers, seas and soils, and nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The current lack of policy coherency risks nitrogen trade-offs, while failing to harvest synergies at local, regional and global scales.

Nitrogen is not just another problem, but must be part of the solution. Sustainable nitrogen management would help prevent millions of premature deaths, help ensure food security, and simultaneously help protect wildlife and the ozone layer. Globally, nitrogen losses from crop, meat and dairy production, transport, energy and wastewater represent a massive resource waste of $200 billion annually. An ambitious goal to ‘Halve Nitrogen Waste’ from all sources globally by 2030 would save $100 billion per year, while mobilizing innovation to beat pollution globally. We are committed to support work on this goal. We now call on UN Member States to wake up to the challenge.

We welcome the planned launch of the UN Environment Programme ‘Sustainable Nitrogen Campaign’ on 23-24 October under the leadership of H.E. President Sirisena of Sri Lanka as a contribution to United Nations Day 2019. We ask you to raise the nitrogen challenge with world leaders, building awareness of both the urgent need and the opportunity.

Yours sincerely,

Prof. Mark A. Sutton
Environmental Physicist, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), UK

Director, GEF UNEP International Nitrogen Management System (INMS)
Director, UKRI GCRF South Asian Nitrogen Hub
Co-chair, UNECE Task Force on Reactive Nitrogen (TFRN)

co-signed by 197 signatories from 44 countries

cc.        H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, President and holder of the environment portfolio, Sri Lanka

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme



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Current Number of Signatories: 197


Title Forename Surname Country Organisation/Institution Role or other designation
Prof Mark Sutton UK UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Director, GEF UNEP International Nitrogen Management System (INMS)
Prof. Tapan Adhya India South Asia Nitrogen Centre, New Delhi Director
Dr Vincent Aduramigba-Modupe Nigeria Institute of Agricultural Research and Training & International Nitrogen Initiative Senior Research Fellow & Director INI Africa Region
Dr. Jean Pierre Ometto Brazil Brazilian National Institute for Space Research Coordinator, Earth System Science Center; Director of INI Latin America
Professor Tommy Dalgaard Denmark Aarhus University, Department of Agroecology Section Manager, UN-ECE Task Force on Reactive Nitrogen co-chair
Dr. Clare M. Howard UK UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Coordinator, GEF UNEP International Nitrogen Management System (INMS)
Prof. James Galloway US University of Virginia Director, Nitrogen Footprint Project
Dr Kevin Hicks UK Senior Researcher, SEI, University of York INI Europe Director, Co-Chair INMS Activity 1.3
Prof. Wilfried Winiwarter Austria IIASA INMS Project Management Board Member
Prof Cláudia Cordovil Portugal Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade de Lisboa TFRN co-chair
Prof. David Simpson Norway EMEP MSC-W, Norwegian Meteorological Institute
Prof. David Kanter USA New York University Vice-Chair International Nitrogen Initiative
Dr. Harry Harmens UK UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Chair ICP Vegetation
Dr. Aimable Uwizeye Italy Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations Livestock Specialist
Dr. Mathias Bergman Finland Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG) Nutrients specialist
Dr. Benjamin Bodirsky Germany Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Dr Adrian Leip Italy European Commission - Joint Research Centre Scientific project officer
Prof. Alberto Sanz-Cobena Spain Research Center for the Management of Environmental and Agricultural Risks (CEIGRAM), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid
Dr. Natalya Buchkina Russia Agrophysical Research Institute Deputy director
Dr. David Pelster Canada Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Soil Scientist
Gudrun Schuetze Germany German Environmant Agency Vice Chair of Working Group on Effects unter the Geneva Air Convention (CLRTAP)
Dr Abdul Wakeel Pakistan University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Pakistan President, Pakistan Agricultural Scientists Forum
Ms Nicole Read UK University of Edinburgh Research Associate
Miss Madison Warwick UK University of Edinburgh/ Centre for Ecology and Hydrology South Asian Nitrogen Hub Officer
Professor Altaf Ahmad India Aligarh Muslim University, India Teaching and research
Dr. Albert Bleeker The Netherlands Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency PBL Senior Policy Researcher
Dr. Maria de Fátima Sousa Calouro Portigal Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e VEterinária I.P. Researcher on agricultural crops fertilisation
Prof. Arvydas Povilaitis Lithuania Water Resources Engineering Institute, Vytautas Magnus University Water Scientist, Member of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences
Dr Arti Bhatia India ICAR Principal Scientist
Prof Mallika Pinnawala Sri Lanka University of Peredeniya , Sri Lanka Lecturer
Dr. Padmasiri Wanigasundera Sri Lanka Retired from University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
Dr. Anuradha Jayaweera Sri Lanka University of Peradeniya Lecturer
Professor Helen ApSimon UK Imperial College London Member of UN ECE Task Force on Integrated Assessment
Dr Nathan Mueller USA University of California, Irvine
Dr Andrew Smith Australia The University of Melbourne Research Fellow
Prof Baojing Gu China Zhejiang University Co-Chair INMS Activity 1.4
Prof. Jianbin Zhou China Northwest A&F University
Dr. Jatish C. Biswas Bangladesh Krishi Gobeshona Foundation Coordinator, Modeling Climate Change Impact on Bangladesh Agriculture
Dr. Frida Keuper France French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) staff scientist
Dr. Ed Rowe UK CEH Head of UK National Focal Centre for Critical Loads Modelling and Mapping.
Ms Zlata Grabovac Bosnia and Herzegovina Ministry Of Environment And Tourism - Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina Assistant to NFP CBD BIH
Dr Bill Bealey UK Centre For Ecology & Hydrology INMS Co-Chair Activity 1.3
Prof. Laszlo Horvath Hungary Greengrass - Atmospheric Environment Expert Ltd. fellowship, formerly: at the Hungarian Meteorological Service atmospheric chemistry specialist
Dr. Christoph Müller Germany Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Dr. Carmen Iacoban Romania INCDS Marin Dracea, Campulung Moldovenesc, Romania ICP Forests, soil solution and deposition analysis Romania
Dr. ir. Jeroen Staelens Belgium Flanders Environment Agency (VMM) Researcher
Dr. Barbara Navé Germany BASF SE Project Manager R&D Soil Management
Dr Anita Ganesan University of Bristol
Professor Penny Johnes UK University of Bristol Professor of Biogeochemistry
1976 Pedro Pinho Portugal Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa Researcher