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South Asian Nitrogen Hub

Sunset across river. Photo courtesy of Ian Deng Unsplash

Completed project

Project start: April 2019  |  Project end: March 2024
Principal Investigator: Dr Yuri Artioli
Other participants from PML: Dale Partridge, Dr Andy Rees, Dr Gennadi Lessin, Dr Muchamad Al Azhar, Dr Olivia Rendón, Dr Ricardo Torres, Dr Susan Kay, Professor Icarus Allen, Dr Molly James

The South Asian Nitrogen Hub is a pioneering UK-South Asia research partnership to enable South Asia to adopt and champion a strategic approach to nitrogen management, as a key step towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Nitrogen pollution comes in many forms, with multiple impacts – for humans, animals and plant life. Gases such as ammonia and nitrogen dioxide contribute to poor air quality and can aggravate respiratory and heart conditions, leading to millions of premature deaths across the world; while nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas that depletes the ozone layer. Nitrate from chemical fertilizers, manure and industry pollutes rivers and seas, posing a health risk for humans, fish, coral and plant life.

The UKRI GCRF South Asian Nitrogen Hub will study the impacts of the different forms of pollution to form a coherent picture of the nitrogen cycle. In particular, it will look at nitrogen in agriculture in eight countries – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives. The Hub’s recommendations will support cleaner and more profitable farming, as well as industrial recycling of nitrogen, fostering development of a cleaner circular economy for nitrogen.

The hub is built on four pillars, or research programmes: the first one will focus on building the nitrogen policy arena for South Asia; the second one will test options for improving N management, from agricultural practices to technological recapturing; the third one will study the impact of nitrogen pollution on the key ecosystems, corals and lichens; the fourth one will aim to build an integrated framework to look at nitrogen flows between land, water and atmosphere across the region.

PML is involved in most aspects of the research programme and is co-leading the work on modelling nitrogen in the water system.


The Hub will support progress towards meeting Nations Sustainable Development Goals, address barriers to change, and demonstrate the economic benefits of tackling nitrogen pollution. The involvement of UN Environment, the South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme and South Asian governments will ensure that the outcomes are shared widely as a basis to accelerate uptake of the most promising solutions.