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From the 16th to 18th of March 2012, the Global TraPs (Transdisciplinary Processes for Sustainable Phosphorus management) community met in El Jadida, Morocco, for the project’s latest milestone, the 4th Global TraPs Workshop.
Top scientists from over 30 different institutes, experts from the mining and fertilizer industries, international and governmental organizations such as UNEP, FAO, IFA, USGS, BGR and NGOs such as IISD, Greenpeace, Coalition Clean Baltic, etc. and eleven guests from the workshop’s host, the Moroccan phosphate mining company Office Chérifien des Phosphates (OCP), were among the 85 attendees. The transdisciplinary event was organized by the project’s leading science and practice institutions; the Natural and Social Sciences Interface of ETH Zurich (Head: Roland W. Scholz) and the International Fertilizer Development Center, IFDC (Head: Amit Roy), respectively.
On the first meeting day, OCP offered the participants to gain an insight into their industrial activity at their largest mining center located in the province of Khouribga. At the site of Sidi Chennane, the visitors had the opportunity to observe several mining operations such as the excavation of phosphate sediments by draglines and trucks, transportation to the conveyer belt and the ore storage in stockpiles. The field excursion gave valuable impressions of the magnitude of the mining activities, the impacts on the landscape and environment, and the strategy for renaturation and environmental protection of the OCP group, the world’s third largest phosphate producer.
During the following two conference days, the participants were challenged to make important decisions on the future of the Global TraPs project in line with the motto of the 4th workshop “Defining Case Studies – Setting Priorities”. Thus, the identification of case studies within the different project nodes; exploration, mining, processing, use, dissipation & recycling and trade & finance, were considered to be the main task of the workshop. The case studies, which aim to fill in the knowledge gaps identified during the last 1.5 years, were intensely discussed in the plenum and detailed in the node meetings. The semifinal draft of the Springer Book “Sustainable Phosphorus Management: a Transdisciplinary Roadmap” (tentative title; edited by R. W. Scholz, A. Roy et al.) served as a communication framework of the meetings and the comments and feedback will now be considered by the authors for further revisions of the node chapters.
In addition to this, the workshop in El Jadida was the first opportunity to actively involve farmer organizations. Representing hundreds of millions of smallholder farmers all over the world, delegates of the farmer organizations such as Ajay Vashee, (Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Producers), Timothy Busienie (Cereal Growers Association Kenya) and Vijoo Krishnan (All India Kisan Sabha) addressed their main concerns to the plenum and were closely involved in the discussions on the upcoming case studies about access to fertilizers, cost structures of the P supply chain, and smallholder farmer strategies etc. A special highlight of the workshop was the Saturday evening talk of the workshop’s guest speaker Dr. Mhamed Ibnabdeljalil, the Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing & Raw Material Procurement of the OCP Group. Addressing the “Sustainability Visions of OCP”, he outlined OCP’s responsible handling of the nation’s resources, their efficiency improvements in mining and processing during the last decade, and their future business and organisation strategy.
In order to achieve the ambitious objective of policy orientations for transitioning to sustainable P management and to finally answer to the guiding question “What new knowledge, technologies and policy options are needed to ensure that future phosphorus use is sustainable, improves food security and environmental quality and provides benefits for the poor?”, the 4th Global TraPs workshop in El Jadida formed an important and indispensable basis for the upcoming core running phase of the project. The 1st World Conference in February 2013 in China is the next large step of the Global TraPs Project where the focus is on involving ministries and other global political policy makers in this unique transdisciplinary process.
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