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Urban phosphorus sustainability: Systemically incorporating social, ecological, and technological factors into phosphorus flow analysis

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Metson, Genevieve S.; Iwaniec, David M.; Baker, Lawrence A.; Bennett, Elena M.; Childers, Daniel L.; Cordell, Dana; Grimm, Nancy B.; Grove, J. Morgan; Nidzgorski, Daniel A.; White, Stuart

Year Published

2015

Publication

Environmental Science & Policy 47: 1-11.

Abstract

Phosphorus (P) is an essential fertilizer for agricultural production but is also a potent aquatic pollutant. Current P management fails to adequately address both the issue of food security due to P scarcity and P pollution threats to water bodies. As centers of food consumption and waste production, cities transport and store much P and thus provide important opportunities to improve P management. Substance flow analysis (SFA) is often used to understand urban P cycling and to identify inefficiencies that may be improved on. However, SFAs typically do not examine the factors that drive observed P dynamics. Understanding the social, ecological, and technological context of P stocks and flows is necessary to link urban P management to existing urban priorities and to select local management options that minimize tradeoffs and maximize synergies across priorities. Here, we review P SFA studies in 18 cities, focusing on gaps in the knowledge required to implement P management solutions. We develop a framework to systemically explore the full suite of factors that drive P dynamics in urban systems. By using this framework, scientists and managers can build a better understanding of the drivers of P cycling and improve our ability to address unsustainable P use and waste.

Citation

Metson, Genevieve S.; Iwaniec, David M.; Baker, Lawrence A.; Bennett, Elena M.; Childers, Daniel L.; Cordell, Dana; Grimm, Nancy B.; Grove, J. Morgan; Nidzgorski, Daniel A.; White, Stuart. 2015. Urban phosphorus sustainability: Systemically incorporating social, ecological, and technological factors into phosphorus flow analysis. Environmental Science & Policy 47: 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2014.10.005.

Last updated on: August 19, 2015