Nitrogen dialogue - citizen participation on the way to a national nitrogen strategy

Since the mid-19th century, the amount of reactive nitrogen compounds released into the environment has increased tenfold. The primary cause of this high level of pollution is human intervention in the natural nitrogen cycle, such as the use of fossil fuels in industry and transport or the intensification of agricultural production. The excessive release of nitrogen has significant negative consequences for humans and the environment. This includes air pollution, climate change, lack of oxygen in the oceans, and the deterioration in the condition of soils and waters.

Against this background, the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) is developing an action programme for a cross-sector and cross-media strategy on nitrogen reduction. The corresponding measures are concerned with central source sectors such as the energy sector, industry, agriculture and transport. However, the overarching areas of mobility, nutrition and consumer behaviour - and thus central spheres of consumer life - also contribute significantly to the burden. Active participation by and awareness raising of the general public are essential to an effective and successful strategy for nitrogen reduction.

On behalf of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) adelphi is accompanying the development of an action plan for nitrogen reduction through the use of a wide-reaching citizen dialogue. The central goal is to broaden the decision-making basis for nitrogen reduction measures to include the consumer's point of view. The participation process consists of five regional conferences, which will be held in Duisburg, Oldenburg, Rostock, Stuttgart and Weimar on various topics in the field of nitrogen. The events are intended to inform citizens about the topic, discuss and evaluate proposed measures, and to develop their own measures. The citizens' dialogue will be supplemented by a conference of delegates, an online vote, and accompanying press and public relations work. Informational material on nitrogen will be made available on a comprehensive and interactive information platform.

adelphi is leading the consortium of a parallel project developing an action programme for the implementation of an integrated nitrogen strategy. As part of the citizens' participation process, adelphi is responsible for the interlinking and consistency of the two projects. adelphi is also providing the content basis for the preparation of the participants of the regional conferences and supporting them with technical expertise.