Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Dear Forum members and contributors to the online consultation,

Thank you for all for the contributions and feedback over the course of this consultation to review and revise the International Code of Conduct for the Use and Management of Fertilizers.

Feedback and comments were received from over 50 contributions to the exchange. Contributors from a broad geographic perspective included representatives of member countries, academia, NGOs, research institutions, civil society, fertilizer industry associations and companies. The full proceedings of the consultation are available here on the forum webpage.

In summary, there was consensus that a Fertilizer Code of Conduct is timely and needed given the importance of nutrient management from a global food security perspective, the need to prevent the conversion of natural lands to agricultural uses and from land degradation, and to address potential negative impacts of fertilizers.

It was generally agreed that the Fertilizer Code addressed all aspects related to optimizing benefits and minimizing risks of fertilizer use and management. However, there were some comments suggesting that the Fertilizer Code was too focused on the benefits of fertilizers rather than their negative impacts on the environment and animal and human health, and thus could be seen to be promoting the use of fertilizers and the interests of the fertilizer industry. On the other hand, there were a number of comments suggesting that the Fertilizer Code was biased towards highlighting the negative effects of fertilizers and not promoting the benefits of fertilizers sufficiently. The development of the Fertilizer Code, subject to this review, was assisted by a technical OEWG with expert representation from member countries, fertilizer industry and interested NGOs. Broad agreement was reached amongst the OEWG in regard to balancing benefits and risks of fertilizer use, thus any suggestions to change the Code in terms of further highlighting either the benefits or negative impacts of fertilizers are well-noted and recorded, however no significant changes will be made to the text in this regard.

There were some comments regarding what was missing from the Fertilizer Code, particularly specific items such as liming agents and vermicomposts, or strategies to manage fertilizer use at the field level. Where appropriate specific items will be included as examples. General strategies for managing plant nutrition are certainly referred to within the text, however it is beyond the scope of the Fertilizer Code to include specific strategies and recommendations for the use of fertilizers, nor specific policies or allowable limits on contaminants. Such information exists and should be collated into a supporting toolkit or knowledge hub containing examples, guidelines and other materials to help formulate fertilizer management policies and assist in making decisions for specific fertilizer management practices.

Within the feedback and comments, there were also many suggestions for ways to refine the document. Where appropriate such suggestions will be incorporated, however no large changes or alterations from the original text, tone and sentiment of the document will be made at this point as this had been previously agreed by the OEWG. The feedback however is documented for the record and can be used for future refinements of the Fertilizer Code, or for reference by member countries who will adopt the Code.

There were a number of comments, a significant number of which were from the fertilizer industry associations and representatives, that the Fertilizer Code was developed in too short a time frame. It was agreed by the OEWG that this initiative is urgently needed by many countries to support governments to manage the multiple aspects along the fertilizer supply chain including the regulation, quality, proper handling and proper use of fertilizers, as well as minimizing and reducing the negative impacts of fertilizers. This sentiment was also supported by the majority of the GSP Plenary. It was also highlighted by many member countries that they urgently require such a Code of Conduct related to fertilizers, and as such strongly supported its rapid adoption.

As a result of this consultation, a revised version of the Fertilizer Code of Conduct will be presented to COAG 2018 with the suggestion that it be adopted and that a review of the Code occur in 4 years’ time, thus allowing the assessment of the usefulness of the application of the code, further stakeholder engagement and buy in, and subsequent refinement. A report as such be would be presented to COAG in 2022.

Again, many thanks for all your support in assisting the development of such an important tool to help address the challenge of managing fertilizers to address food security and nutrition, while preserving the environment.


Debra, Gary, Robert, Ronald and Zineb