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Output from the Young Scientist Workshop, Montpellier, France, August 31st, 2014.

October 14, 2014


In August 31, 2014, there were 42 young scientists from 20 countries gathered together at Montpellier, France at the Young Scientist Workshop in the midst of the phosphorus (P) week. These young scientists are mainly PhD students and postdoctoral fellows. This workshop was particularly focusing on developing their research network, reflecting on much broader questions related to P, generating novel ideas with regard to “phosphorus and society”, and holding a dialogue on these issues among participants from different countries.


In the beginning, the young scientists came together to network and establish a collaborative approach of multidisciplinary scientists to discuss the current and future of phosphorus at a global scale. Working collaboratively, they identified 6 key topics being: agronomy, P recycling, Geopolitics (Power, Responsibility, & Politics), P pricing, Multiple issues (intersection of environment, society, & economy), and P trilemma (producers, poor users, & rich users).

The output of the workshop was a conceptual model that describes the trilemma among P availability, usage, and need (Fig. 1). When a system is balanced, it has the adequate amount of need for P to apply in a reasonable rate to provide just enough available P for crops (Fig. 1a). When the system is imbalanced, it may appear as too much need for P, such as most of the African countries (Fig. 1b); or too much P usage and availability, such as most of the developed countries (Fig. 1c). The system can be in different scales from global to plant and soil interaction (Fig. 1d).

Six discussion points following the conceptual model had been developed for the further discussion in the 4th Sustainable P Summit:

  1. Which actors the responsibility for bringing about change?
  2. The inequity of P production, use and abuse
  3. The need for effective communication and education at all levels
  4. The honest engagement and understanding of stakeholders
  5. The need for global governance

A true collaborative approach of researchers, stakeholders, government with an emphasis on “No  One Size Fits All” solution is needed.

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