Back to INI-Europe
INI-Europe facilitates enhanced cooperation and integration among European researchers, policy makers and practitioners to cover environmental issues related to reactive nitrogen (Nr). INI-Europe’s task includes to inventory, review and synthesize work from existing related activities, like those of EUROSTAT and OECD, the TFRN (Task Force on Reactive Nitrogen) and its expert panels, and the ongoing work in research projects under EU’s 7th Framework programme or similar activities.
Addressing several key focal areas, we summarize the aim, the topics to investigate, the rationale behind and the approach that may be taken. Further, we identify responsibilities by adding the names of one responsible steering committee members.
1. Regional N budgets and N pathways/emissions
Aim: Create regional nitrogen budgets and assess/quantify the respective flows (distinguishing farm, soil, land and total N budgets)
Rationale: Extending from the European Nitrogen Assessment (ENA), budgets on different scales intend to identify intervention points to regulate and abate N flows.
Approach: liaise with EPNB, the Expert Panel on Nitrogen Budgets operating under the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, and with related activities of Eurostat and OECD. INI-Europe will support individual country activities, e.g. those currently developed by Denmark.
Key contact in INI-Europe: Wilfried Winiwarter
2. N compounds in air and water and their relation to effects on ecosystems and human health
Aim: Quantify and prioritize risks and risk treatment associated with Nr, now and in a future situation
Rationale: These areas are the key policy drivers in Europe
Approach: ENA managed to tackle this issue doing cost-benefit analyses. This approach has been updated and again published. Still considerable further activity is needed to appropriately value the risks in ecosystems as well as human health. Using a numeraire of monetary terms may be considered less than ideal, possibly applying relative risks may be a way to proceed.
Key contact in INI-Europe: Hans van Grinsven
3. Effects of N inputs on terrestrial ecosystems, in interaction with air quality and climate change
Aim: Assess effects of N inputs, in interaction with air quality and climate change, on terrestrial ecosystems in terms of:
Rationale: The impact of N inputs on C sequestration is highly relevant but should be evaluated in view of other drivers (CO2, O3, climate and other nutrients including P). Furthermore, the interaction of climate change with N inputs on biodiversity should gain more attention.
Approach: This can be related to Eclaire work
Key contact in INI-Europe: Wim de Vries, Kevin Hicks
4. N inputs and effects on aquatic/marine ecosystems
Aim: Assess effects of N inputs, in interaction with P and Si inputs, on aquatic and marine ecosystems in terms of:
Rationale: The ENA focus was on N as such, but interaction with other drivers, i.e. phosphorus, P, and silica, Si, (as the Indicator for Coastal Eutrophication Potential) should get more attention in view of the eutrophication of European surface waters. The ENA refers in its water quality chapter to global NEWS that makes such predictions. However, global NEWS is a low spatial resolution global scale model in which furthermore P from land is built in by a steady state approach. Updating NEWS by including dynamic P processes using higher resolution input data for Europe and comparing with other models, such as GREEN is relevant here.
Approach: Try to link this work to upcoming Horizon 2020 call. An aspect that could be considered relevant is the evaluation of impacts of bioenergy crops on eutrophication in view of elevated N and P use (this also holds for the other topics like NH3 emissions etc., but the relation to eutrophication seems most prevalent).
Key contact in INI-Europe: Maren Voss / Bruna Grizzetti
5. Link N and P use with food productivity and assess regional (country and continental) transfer of N and P to both food productivity and adverse environmental impacts
Aim: Assess the N (and P use) efficiencies in food chains in European countries as a basis for improving the NUE and PUE
Rationale: understanding nutrient flows in its chain is another way to identify intervention points, and to establish resource efficiency.
Approach: N footprint calculator (Jim Galloway/Albert Bleeker) and supply chain analysis at SEI
Key contact in INI-Europe: Kevin Hicks / Wim de Vries
6. Assess regional boundaries for N and P use in view of food production and adverse environmental impacts
Aim: Assess boundaries for N and P use at country level and even lower levels (e.g. NUTS2 level) for possible governance use accounting for the trade-off between the need of nutrient use for food security versus the harmful effects of over application.
Rationale: Human interference with the N cycle is identified as a system that may already have exceeded its planetary boundary, was based on the production of new reactive N. However, this value was simply set at 25% of its current value and requires update. Furthermore, unlike climate change and biodiversity loss which are also assumed to be exceeded, a global threshold for N is absent with the exception of N2O, thus challenging a planetary boundary and requiring regional boundaries.
Approach: Support of work related to (i) identification of multiple threat N indicators and setting critical limits for them, (ii) back calculating critical N losses from critical limits for N indicators, while accounting for the spatial variability of indicators and their exceedance and (iii) back calculating critical N fixation rates from critical N losses, with an aim to closing nutrient cycles.
Key contact in INI-Europe: Wim de Vries
7. Improving N management across Europe and current best practice in Europe
Aim: Devise practicable implementations of NUE efficiency improvement for the diversity of European situations
Rationale: Close science-policy gap by coming up with practically useful proposals
Approach: Devise recommendations based on individual studies and activities for the diversity of European situations (from excess nutrients to deficiencies, from water scarcity to abundance, from moderate temperature ranges to high/low extremes).
Key contact in INI-Europe: Wilfried Winiwarter
The contributions of the mentioned priority issue to the wider global objectives of INI are as follows:
1. Awareness raising and communication – use a network of ‘Nitrogen Ambassadors’
Ideas to be explored for a medium-term communication strategy:
Highlight best practice in tackling these issues. Develop key policy focal areas, building on the recommendations of ENA and more recently ONW (Our Nutrient World) – especially those where there is a need for new scientific evidence or technical inputs for novel solutions. The science-policy-practice interface established in Europe, while still being considered immature and not adequately effective, nevertheless may serve as a showcase to other world regions.
2. Mechanisms to motivate European nitrogen scientists and others to contribute
Use a discussion forum to discuss key ideas and their solutions. Bring key N people together to work on policy briefs / reviews / proposals.
3. Assisting Policy Development
Using policy briefs and multi-stakeholder meetings to engage policy makers and practitioners in the development of approaches to tackle nitrogen issues
4. Monitoring and Evaluation
INI-Europe in itself is organized as a project, with internal mechanisms to measure progress albeit at a simplified form. For that reason a monitoring process will be set up that allows to establish and monitor self-identified targets like
Back to INI-Europe