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Output of P RCN Meeting in D.C., May 2015

June 18, 2015

On May 18-21, 2015, scientists of the P Sustainability Research Coordination Network (RCN) reconvened in Washington, D.C. for the third annual P RCN meeting. In this meeting, the P RCN moves on from Phase I’s focus on the two P sustainability challenges of “improving P efficiency in food production” and “developing robust pathways of P recycling”. Phase II integrates these two challenges into and theme aimed at “integrating efficiency and recycling to create a sustainable fertilizer system”.

The stakeholder event, “The Future of Phosphorus”, held jointly with the new North American Partnership for Phosphorus Sustainability (NAPPS), took place on May 19. The keynote speaker, Nancy Rabalais, gave a presentation on the hypoxic zones—the aquatic “dead zones” with low levels of dissolved oxygen in the Gulf of Mexico. Then three expert panels, P management and water quality, P recycling, and P sustainability in food production, created a platform for dialogue among scientists, leaders from industry, U.S. government, and non-governmental organizations to discuss needed solutions for P sustainability. Following the panel discussion, stakeholders and scientists broke out into small groups to envision scenarios for transitioning to P sustainability.

The feedback P RCN received from the stakeholder event was then used by the RCN in the rest of the meeting, shaping the direction of research forming in Phase II. At the end of P RCN meeting, four new synthetic “umbrella” groups were formed. 1.  Metrics group—reviewing, developing, and adopting metrics for P sustainability; 2.  Future – Technologies group—informing future technologies and business models, using a solutions-oriented approach; 3.  Transitions Group—identifying barriers and opportunities to a circular economy of sustainable P in agriculture and urban interface; 4.  Ecosystem Services, Nexus and Meta-analysis group—optimizing sustainable P management to provide better ecosystem services.

These research groups are now working on these new topics and will reconvene in Tempe, Arizona in the coming winter. Let’s look forward to this new phase of solving P sustainability challenges.

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