The planetary boundaries describe a safe operating space within which the functioning of the Earth system remains favourable for human life with a high degree of probability. As it stands, we are exceeding the proposed planetary boundary for nitrogen by a factor of two.
The present study contains recommendations for the development of a national integrated nitrogen strategy that takes into account the concept of planetary boundaries. The objectives of the study are: i) the downscaling of the global boundary to the national level; ii) the analysis of whether existing limits and guidelines take sufficient account of the global boundaries; iii) an overview of existing models that can represent the current and future environmental status in relation to the different nitrogen dimensions; (iv) the formulation of approaches to institutionalise and operationalise the obtained results; and (v) the review of the strengths and weaknesses of the concept of planetary boundaries in this context. The study was commissioned by the German Federal Environmental Agency as part of the project ‘Planetary Boundaries – Challenges for Science, Civil Society and Policy’.
The aim of this study was to support the vertical integration of a national nitrogen strategy – with global sustainability criteria and environmental objectives to encourage international cooperation.