Colombo Declaration calls for tackling global nitrogen challenge
At a time when the world grapples with the menace of air pollution killing 7 million people prematurely every year, Sri Lanka, with support from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), convened a two-day event at which member states came together to adopt what is being called the “Colombo Declaration” with an ambition to halve nitrogen waste by 2030.
While a critical element for building structures of living organisms and an essential element for the survival of all living things, nitrogen overuse has negative impacts on the planet, biodiversity and is a contributor to the climate crisis.
“Humanity’s very existence depends on nitrogen. Over time, we have learned how to harness its power. Pulling nitrogen from the air and fixing it in soil is one reason why the human population has expanded so rapidly,” said Joyce Msuya, UNEP deputy executive director. “Yet its usefulness has come at a terrible cost. Our failure to use nitrogen efficiently is polluting the land, air and water.”
“The evidence is clear in that the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the soil we invade, and the oceans regulating global temperature enabling our bodies to function, are being rapidly polluted,” said Sri Lanka president Maithripala Sirisena in his invitation to the high-level political dialogue.
As part of the Declaration, environment ministers and officials representing the governments of more than 30 countries endorsed United Nations plans for a campaign on sustainable nitrogen management called “Nitrogen for Life”, which stems from the Sustainable Nitrogen Management Resolution which was adopted during the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly held from 11 – 15 March 2019 at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.
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