Researchers tackling Nitrogen pollution in South Asia
Nitrogen is the most common gas in the atmosphere, yet humans have dramatically altered flows of nitrogen on our planet, leading to benefits in food production but also multiple threats to the environment. This week (26th February) sees the first meeting of the UKRI GCRF South Asian Nitrogen Hub take place in Nepal. Over 100 Hub partners from across South Asia are joining forces to better understand the nitrogen cycle across their region and work together to prevent the harmful consequences of nitrogen pollution including ill health, loss of biodiversity and climate change.
The inception meeting, hosted by Kathmandu University, in cooperation with Tribuhvan University includes researchers with a wealth of expertise from ecology and engineering to natural sciences and social sciences, as well as government representatives. Delegates are attending from across all eight partner countries of the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives.
The South Asian Nitrogen Hub is one of 12 UKRI GCRF Hubs, launched last month. This £200M investment in the Hubs, forms an ambitious new approach to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges from improving human health and promoting gender equality and social justice to fortifying ecological systems and biodiversity on land and sea, generating agricultural sustainability and fostering greater resilience to natural disasters.
Speaking about the South Asian Nitrogen Hub, Principal investigator, Professor Mark Sutton of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology explains: “There are few places on Earth more affected by nitrogen pollution than South Asia, resulting in a web of interlinked problems, as nitrogen losses from agriculture and from fossil fuel combustion cause air and water pollution. The GCRF Nitrogen Hub is bringing together all eight countries of South Asia to work for a joined-up approach that fosters sustainable development for cleaner air and water, climate resilience, health and livelihoods.”
Professor Tapan Adhya, co-director of the Hub, from KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, India, added: “It is a great opportunity to bring all the South Asian nations to have a unified system of nitrogen use for a positive gain for agriculture and the environment.”
Over the next five years the 12 Interdisciplinary Research Hubs (PDF, 7MB) will work across 85 countries with governments, international agencies, partners and NGOs on the ground in developing countries and around the globe, to develop creative and sustainable solutions which help make the world, and the UK, safer, healthier and more prosperous.
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