As attention to the global nitrogen challenge grows, the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) here announces the appointment of a new Chair to take up the baton. A new position of Vice-chair is also created. Their combined effort will enable INI to strengthen its contribution to global science-policy processes, including supporting the International Nitrogen Management System (INMS) and providing regular input to the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA).
The Chair Elect of INI is Prof. N. Raghuram of GGS Indraprastha University, New Delhi, President of the Indian Nitrogen Group and a Steering Committee member of the UNEP Global Partnership on Nutrient Management. Prof. Raghuram specialises in the biological determinants of crop N use efficiency. He will become the first INI Chair from Asia. His appointment reflects the growing importance of nitrogen for Asia, as well as the recent publication of the Indian Nitrogen Assessment, for which he was one of the coordinators.
The Vice-Chair Elect of INI is Prof David Kanter, of New York University, who is an expert in the role of nitrous oxide and nitrogen policy evaluation. Prof Kanter co-leads the INMS activity on future nitrogen scenarios. He recently led the nitrogen side event at the 2018 meeting of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Commenting on his appointment Prof. Raghuram said: “INI has come a long way under the leadership of all my predecessors from Jim Galloway to Mark Sutton. Reactive nitrogen is now acknowledged in many international platforms, though it is both an opportunity and a challenge for coordinated action towards sustainable development. I have the benefit of an able Vice-Chair in David Kanter and we look forward to further enhancing the outreach and impact of INI across the world.”
The importance of providing scientific insights to underpin nitrogen policy was emphasized by Prof Kanter: “Nitrogen policies are only as good as the science that underpins them. INI can play a crucial role as an honest broker between the scientific and policy communities on this unique environmental issue. I am excited to work with Prof. Raghuram and others to continue to raise nitrogen's profile in the policy world.”
The new chairs will formally take up their roles on 1 January 2019, allowing for a smooth transition during Autumn 2018.
The outgoing chair of INI, Prof. Mark Sutton of the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), based in Edinburgh, commented: “Chairing the INI has offered a roller-coaster opportunity to bring nitrogen science to the world stage. It has meant a huge amount of travel, but helped INI to forge a deeper understanding of the nitrogen challenge among policy makers globally. As part of this, I am especially pleased about our deepening partnership between INI and UN Environment, both through the Our Nutrient World report and the recent establishment of INMS.”
Passing on the overall leadership of INI to Raghuram and David Kanter will enable Sutton and his team at CEH to focus on coordinating the “Towards INMS” project with UN Environment. The new Chair and Vice Chair of INI will take on responsibility for the overall steer of INI, as well as the network of six regional centres, each under an INI Regional Director (Africa, East Asia, South Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America). Other INI projects under their purview include the “N-print” activity on nitrogen foot-printing and cooperation with the Global Carbon Project on establishment of a global nitrous oxide budget.
As Raghuram and David develop their profiles, their contribution will make INI even more resilient for the future, especially as INI enters a new phase of increased science-policy engagement on the global nitrogen cycle.