UNEP Report Released on Environmental and Health Impacts of Fertilizers

UNEP Report Released on Environmental and Health Impacts of Fertilizers

Recently the FAO in collaboration with the WHO and relevant stakeholder organizations, including APNI, released a synthesis report on the Environmental and Health Impacts of Pesticides and Fertilizers and Ways to Minimize Them. The report was commissioned in response to a 2017 resolution of the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA) that identified the urgent need to review and gather a consensus on the current knowledge and understanding of pesticide and fertilizer use practices, their environmental impacts, and to identify key knowledge gaps, and review current management practices.

Focusing on fertilizers, the report outlines “a set of transformative actions able to fundamentally change  how fertilizers are produced, used and managed through concerted action by a wide range of stakeholders in the agri-food system and in value chains…” APNI scientists joined the consultative process of identifying the way forward along with invited government experts, other scientists, experts from intergovernmental organizations, and other stakeholders from the public and private sector.

The 53-page report steps through the global drivers, environmental and health concerns, social and economic impacts, and options for minimizing adverse impacts. The report concludes with a series of priority actions required to strengthen fertilizer management which include the need to:

  1. Incentivize healthy and sustainable consumer choices and consumption;
  2. Fundamentally change crop management and adopt ecosystem-based approaches;
  3. Use economic instruments to create a level playing field for greener products and approaches;
  4. Promote the use of direct finance to encourage sustainable agriculture;
  5. Adopt integrated and life cycle approaches for sound fertilizer management;
  6. Strengthen standards and adopt corporate policies for sustainable supply chain management.

Innovative fertilizer management emphasized through targeted R&D 

The report recognized the essential contribution of multi-stakeholder R&D innovation through collaborative partnering. The development of new fertilizer recommendation tools and delivery platforms will require close collaboration with fertilizer manufacturers, service and knowledge providers, and especially farmers. The report highlights the need to continue to strengthen available agricultural research and development systems, especially in Africa, where the existing public systems require significant support to address the challenges of serving the millions of smallholder farmers who are a critical part of the food security goals for the continent.

You can access this report United Nations Environment Programme (2022). Synthesis Report on the Environmental and Health Impacts of Pesticides and Fertilizers and Ways to Minimize Them at https://wedocs.unep.org/xmlui/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/38409/pesticides.pdf

APNI contributor: Gavin Sulewski, Communications Lead and Editor

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