The crucial role of plant nutrition in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda

Plant nutrients achieve more than food security: they play an important role in achieving several of the Goals of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Find out below how they contribute to SDG Goals 1 (No Poverty); 2 (No Hunger); 5 (Gender Equality); 6 (Sustainable Management of Water); 9 (Sustainable Industrialization); 13 (Climate Change); 14 (Clean Oceans) and 15 (Life on Land).

Agenda 2030: Transforming Our World

IFA has created a new series showcasing the fertilizer industry's engagement in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) called "Agenda 2030: Transforming our world".

Each issue of the Series provides background information on a specific Goal, and provides case studies from IFA Member companies.

The Industry's SDG Engagement

Goal 2: No Hunger

  • The 4R Research Fund was established in North America by the fertilizer industry to help establish sustainability indicators and environmental impact data for implementation of the 4Rs. It provides resource support with a focus on measuring and documenting the economic, social and environmental impacts of 4R nutrient stewardship.

Goal 4: Quality Education

  • In Bahrain, an IFA Member has implemented since 2001 a “Schools Environmental Awareness Program”, in partnership with the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Ministry of Education, which provides a platform for environmental literacy at school levels. Since its launch in 2001, around 37,000 students have received eco awareness lectures through 485 school visits.
  • A second program has been implemented since 2004 (also in partnership with the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Ministry of Education), financing environmental research and projects that cover four main environmental topics including management of domestic waste, water and power supply, recycle and reuse, and protection of marine life and wildlife.

Goal 6: Clean water and Sanitation

In line with SDG indicators 6.4.1: Change in wateruse efficiency over time, and 6.3.1: Proportion of wastewater safely treated, fertilizer manufacturers are working hard to monitor, evaluate and minimize their water use while maximizing its recycling and reuse during production.

  • In the United States manufacturers reported they operated a total of 81 zero-discharge facilities in 2016 while the amount of water used to produce one ton of nitrogen fertilizer was reduced by 38 percent between 2013 and 2016.
  • In India water consumption per ton of urea produced has been reduced by more than 46% over the last 25 years. For complex fertilizer plants there has been a 42% decrease during the same period.
  • In Europe producers are also focused on water conservation. Between 1997 and 2015, one manufacturer reduced their saline wastewater by nearly two thirds, while since 2013 another producer has reduced fresh water consumption in production by 11 million cubic meters a year, and waste water by 12.5 million cubic meters a year.

Goal 14: Ocean Health

Below are some of the volunatry commitments of the industry to acheive SDG Goal 14:

  • In Australia, industry best management practices and regulation have had some success in reducing the presence of nutrients in water entering the Great Barrier Reef: In 2015, a Reef Report Card indicated an average annual nutrient load reduction of around 18% between 2009 and 2015.
  • In the United States, recent initiatives are showing positive results, especially in the Illinois River Sub-Basin (which discharges in the Gulf of Mexico), where river flow-weighted nitrate concentrations have been declining since 2010, while fertilizer N consumption has slightly increased.

IFA Publications

Nutrient Management Handbook
Integrated Plant Nutrient Management