The goal is to build knowledge about how humans can make transitions toward more sustainable phosphorus use.



No living thing – plants, animals or humans – can exist without phosphorus. Phosphorus is a nutrient found in minerals and rocks in the form of phosphates. These phosphate rocks are processed into various fertilizers critical to global food security and also into many industrial and other non-agricultural products. Two widely discussed issues surrounding phosphorus are: 1) the finite nature of phosphate rock resources and their importance in future food security; and 2) the negative environmental impacts of excess phosphorus, particularly in freshwater and coastal marine ecosystems.


The Global TraPs project studied phosphorus use, management and sustainability from a supply chain perspective through a transdisciplinary process (science-practice) involving experts from academia, industry, governments, non-governmental organizations and other concerned parties. Global TraPs stands for “Global Transdisciplinary Processes for Sustainable Phosphorus Management.”

The transdisciplinary nature of the project involved joint leadership to integrate experience-based, real-world knowledge and academic rigor. Dr. Amit H. Roy, IFDC president and CEO, and Dr. Roland W. Scholz, chair of the Natural and Soil Science Interface at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), co-led the Global TraPs project.


Global TraPs built knowledge about how humans can make transitions toward more sustainable phosphorus use. In a multi-stakeholder forum, Global TraPs defined:

  • The current level of knowledge on phosphorus and its use and new knowledge that is necessary to ensure sustainability.
  • New technologies needed to better process, use and reuse phosphorus.
  • The most valuable areas for policy intervention to ensure sustainable phosphorus use in the future.

“Phosphorus is one of the key nutrients necessary to human, animal and plant life,” said Roy and Scholz in a joint statement. “Phosphorus is also a finite resource that must be used more effectively and efficiently. By focusing on phosphorus from the supply chain perspective, the Global TraPs initiative seeks to bring greater understanding to a number of issues that confront humanity and our environment.”

Learn more about Global TraPs.