Component 2

Component 2: Global quantification of N flows, threats & benefits

The aim of this component is to apply tools, methods and data to synthesize knowledge on nitrogen flows, threats and benefits in the context of the global nitrogen cycle. It applies key inputs in the form of tools and methods developed in Component 1, together with outcomes from the regional demonstration activities of Component 3, to analyse the current status of N flows, threats and benefits. While the first target is the global scale, it necessarily uses the regional activities to illustrate regional variation in context as well as the possible solutions. Where possible this component also supports regional demonstrations by providing regional results of the flux and impacts models to the demonstration studies. Options for improved nitrogen management in different contexts consider the multiple benefits, linking water, air, greenhouse balance, ecosystems and soils, as well as the interactions with food and energy. These elements inform the development of storylines and scenarios of different “nitrogen futures” and how these relate to cost-benefit analysis. This work provides key high-level outputs that support the awareness raising and knowledge sharing of Component 4.  

The main elements and outputs of Component 2 are as follows:

Main Elements

  • Application of a suite of modelling tools to quantify nitrogen flows, threats and benefits at global and regional scales, including developing a shared database of inputs and model outcomes, provision of international support for regional inventory and model development, and integrated analysis to quantify present and future threats and benefits;
  • Preparation of a first global assessment of N fluxes, pathways and impacts, assimilating lessons from the regional demonstrations (and vice versa), including: scoping the structure of the consolidated global assessment, commissioning author teams, drafting and peer review, preparation of summary documents and review, publishing and distribution of the consolidated assessment;
  • Integrating methods, measures and good practices to address issues of excess and insufficient reactive nitrogen, including preparation of a document on the state-of-the-art for good nitrogen management, considering different N forms and N effects. It will include workshops to develop methods that link good practices for N effects (linked to food, energy, water, air, climate, biodiversity etc) and lead to preparation of international guidance on approaches for improved management of the nitrogen cycle;
  • Exploration of future N storylines and scenarios with management /mitigation options and cost-benefit analysis, including review of existing N policies for different countries and regions and review of existing storylines and scenarios. It will lead to a published strategy on scenarios and storylines, together with a report on N policy options and their possible contribution to development of the Green Economy / Circular Economy.
  • Collation and synthesis of the experience of measures for improved nitrogen management as adopted by GEF and others, including UNEP, OECD, FAO etc in sharing and disseminating success stories including lessons learned though case studies at national and local levels.  These case studies will complement and further enhance the Regional Demonstrations of Component 3. 

Key Outputs

  • Output 2.1. Quantification & assessment of the regional threats from excess N and insufficient N (including consideration of interactions with other biogeochemical cycles).
  • Output 2.2. Detailed overview of regional/local N flux and consolidation into a global assessment of N fluxes, pathways, effects and benefits of improved N management
  • Output 2.3. Consolidation of methods and good practices to address issues of excess and insufficient reactive nitrogen
  • Output 2.4. Definition of programmes and policy options for improved reactive nitrogen management at local/regional/global levels, supported by cost-benefit analysis to underpin options for the Green Economy.
  • Output 2.5. Compendium summarizing the state of knowledge, experience and measures adopted by GEF (and others) gained from addressing the issues of excess and insufficient reactive nitrogen.


Component 2 is composed of five activities which are delivering the outputs above. Project management for Component 2 is shown in the diagram below.