This week over 350 scientists, policymakers, industry and NGO representatives gathered in Edinburgh, Scotland at the ‘Nitrogen and Global Change’ international conference.

During the week the first European Nitrogen Assessment was published, the impact of reactive nitrogen on Europe’s wildlife and forests was discussed, and a Nitrogen footprint calculator was launched.

At the closing session of the conference the delegates agreed a statement ‘The Edinburgh Declaration on Reactive Nitrogen’ outlining mechanisms for tackling the threats of nitrogen pollution in Europe and beyond.

The Edinburgh declaration:

  • acknowledges the importance of reducing reactive nitrogen emissions to the environment, stating that there are many options for reducing emissions where the benefits for society clearly outweigh the costs of taking action to reduce these emissions,
  • acknowledges that further communication, education and awareness raising of the nitrogen problem to industry, farmers, retail, policy makers and society at large is required for increasing insight into and support for the options to reduce the impacts of nitrogen pollution,
  • recognises the need to make the links associated with nitrogen between different international conventions including the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, the UNECE Water Convention, Oslo and Paris Commission, the Helsinki Commission, and European directives, and that nitrogen plays a key role in the issues addressed by these international treaties and policy instruments,
  • agrees that the estimated health damage by nitrogen air pollution, contributing to significant reductions in average lifetime of European citizens, confirms the continued need to reduce these emissions,
  • agrees that an overall strategy to reduce the losses and adverse impacts of reactive nitrogen on society should be focused on improving nitrogen use efficiency, particularly in agriculture, which can provide significant financial benefits to farmers and society as a whole.

Further information

The full text of the 23 point Edinburgh declaration can be found on the Conference website.

The European Nitrogen Assessment launch video can be viewed on YouTube.

The European Nitrogen Assessment published by Cambridge University Press is available to download from the Nitrogen in Europe (NinE) website.

The European Nitrogen Assessment may be purchased from Cambridge University Press

The Nitrogen Deposition and Natura 2000 study looking at the impact of nitrogen pollution on wildlife is available to download.

More information on the nitrogen footprint calculator

For further information on nitrogen research and policy discussed at the conference contact:

Lead editor of the European Nitrogen Assessment, Dr Mark Sutton, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Nitrogen and Global Change Conference,lead organizer, Dr Stefan Reis, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Nitrogen footprint calculator, Professor Jan Willem Erisman, Energy research Centre of the Netherlands, Free University Amsterdam

Nitrogen and wildlife, Natura 2000 study, Dr Kevin Hicks, University of York's Stockholm Environment Institute

Reactive nitrogen, European forests and the greenhouse gas balance, Professor Klaus Butterbach-Bahl, Karlsruhe University, Germany

Contact for journalists:

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