Phosphorus: a nutrient with no home - multiple stakeholder perspectives on a critical global resource for food security
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
As an essential nutrient for crop growth and hence food production, phosphorus is a resource of global significance. Yet the main source of phosphorus – phosphate rock – is a non-renewable resource and high-grade global reserves of phosphate rock are likely to be depleted in the next 50-100 years while demand continues to increase. Unlike oil, which can be substituted with renewable energy sources, there is no substitute for phosphorus in food production. Increasing environmental, geopolitical, economic and social challenges means there is a pressing need to reassess how phosphorus is sourced and used in the global food system. For example, while all farmers need access to phosphorus, just five countries currently control around 90% of the worlds remaining phosphate rock reserves. Further, the quality of reserves is decreasing, while the environmental pollution is increasing and cheap fertilizers are likely to be a thing of the past. Given this situation, it is concerning that no existing international organisation is taking an active role in governing phosphorus resources to ensure its long-term sustainability for future food security. This paper first synthesizes findings from a series of international in-depth stakeholder interviews regarding sustainability perspectives on global phosphorus resources for food security. The findings are integrated within a broader institutional analysis of the situation. The analyses revealed that there is little consensus on the nature of the phosphorus situation and indeed possible solutions. Phosphorus is conceptualised in many different ways depending on the context, such as a fertilizer commodity or an environmental pollutant. There is substantial institutional fragmentation and ambiguity regarding roles and responsibilities. In order to ensure future phosphorus accessibility and availability for global food production, phosphorus scarcity needs to be added to the food security discourses alongside water and energy scarcity.
phosphorus, global food security, food availability, stakeholder interviews, institutional fragmentation
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-53761OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-53761DiVA: diva2:291736