Glossary

A

adaptation: actions of individuals or systems to avoid, withstand or take advantage of current and projected climate variability, changes and impacts. 

agronomy: the branch of agriculture dealing with crop production. 

aquifer: an underground layer of rock which holds fresh water and allows water to percolate through it. 

agricultural productivity: the ratio of agricultural inputs to agricultural outputs, incl. labor and land, capital and materials, most often measured in yield (weight) and market value (profit). 

agricultural profitability: the margin over cost incurred. 

arable: farming based on annual plowing or cultivation of the land and sowing of an annual crop.

B

balanced fertilization: the application of nutrients in proportions best suited to the needs of the crop taking account of the soil’s nutrient supply capacity.

biodiversity: the variation of life forms within a given ecosystem.

biofuel: a solid, liquid or gas fuel consisting of or derived from recently dead biological material, most commonly plants, theoretically produced from any (biological) carbon source.

biomass: the biological mass, quantity of living matter, or dry weight of a particular species, within a habitat or geographical area. Biomass energy is stored in organic matter such as plants or animals and their waste products.

biotechnology: any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use.

C

carbon sequestration: the capture and storage of carbon dioxide CO2 instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.

clean technology: manufacturing process or product technology that reduces pollution or waste, energy use or material use in comparison to the technology that it replaces. “Clean” - as opposed to “end-of-pipe” - technology is integrated into the production process.

CO2 equivalent: a measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential.

climate change: any long-term significant change in the “average weather” experienced, caused by dynamic processes on Earth, external forces including variations in sunlight intensity, and more recently by human activities. In recent usage, especially in the context of environmental policy, the term "climate change" often refers to changes in modern climate.

climate variability: variations in the mean state and other statistics of the climate on all temporal and spatial scales beyond that of individual weather events. Variability may be due to natural internal processes in the climate system (internal variability), or to variations in natural or anthropogenic external forcing (external variability).

conservation tillage: agricultural method where the soil surface is broken without inverting the soil.

corporate citizenship: a company’s complete role in and contributions to society, largely based on its core business.

D

desertification: a process in which land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas is turned into desert, as a result of various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.

drylands ( semi-arid land): areas characterized by lack of water, which constrain primary production and nutrient cycling.

E

ecological balance: a state of dynamic equilibrium within a community of organisms in which genetic, species and ecosystem diversity remain relatively stable, subject to gradual changes through natural selection.

ecological footprint: an index of the area of productive land and aquatic ecosystems required to produce the resources used and to assimilate the wastes produced by a defined population at a specified material standard of living, wherever on Earth that land may be located.

ecosystem: a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment, interacting as a functional unit.

effluent: liquid waste (treated or untreated) discharged to the environment from sources such as industrial processes and sewage treatment plants.

energy efficiency: measure of the energy required for a process usually shown as a ratio of a unit of production to the energy required to produce that unit.

environment: the sum total of everything that surrounds an organism, both biological environment and physio-chemical environment.

extreme poverty: the most severe state of poverty, where people cannot meet basic needs for survival, such as food, water, clothing, shelter, sanitation, education and health care. The World Bank characterizes extreme poverty as living on USD 1 or less per day, and estimates that 1.1 billion people currently live under these conditions.

F

FAO: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a specialized agency of the UN, leading international efforts to defeat hunger.

farming for health: a concept including the utilization of farms and farm animals, plants and landscapes as a basis for promoting human mental and physical health and social well-being.

fertilizer: substances added to the soil (solid, liquid or gaseous material) containing one or more recognized plant nutrients, such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus Fertilizers, which can be either organic or inorganic in nature, supply plant nutrients (plant foods), to the soil to improve the quality or quantity of plant growth. (IFA+ Soil-Net)

food chain: a sequence of organisms from photosynthetic plants to top carnivores through a few intermediary organisms, through which energy and nutrients move within an ecosystem, transferred from one living organism to another, beginning with photosynthesis – ending with consumption and, ultimately, decomposition.

food safety: a condition achieved by a series of actions, including processing and handling, storage and preparation, aimed at ensuring that all food is as safe as possible, reducing health hazards and preventing food poisoning and food-borne illness. Food safety policies and actions need to cover the entire food chain, from production to consumption.

food security: a condition where all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences. Opposite: food insecurity exists when people are undernourished as a result of the physical unavailability of food, their lack of social or economic access to adequate food, and/or inadequate food utilization.

food sovereignty: a concept defining people’s right to define their own food chain and agriculture, incl. protecting and regulating domestic agricultural production and trade in order to achieve sustainable development objectives; to determine the extent to which they want to be self-reliant; and to restrict the dumping of products in their markets.

fossil fuels: fuels derived from the fossilized remains of plants and animals, mainly coal, petroleum and natural gas – all are non-renewable resources.

fresh water: surface water and groundwater available for irrigation, urban and industrial use and natural watercourses.

G

greenhouse gas (GHG): gas present in the atmosphere which reduces the loss of heat into space and therefore contributes to global temperatures through the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases are essential for maintaining the temperature of the Earth. However, an excess of greenhouse gases can raise the temperature of the planet to lethal levels.

Global Compact: a set of United Nations principles intended to encourage sustainable corporate practices. They cover international human rights (protection from human rights abuses), labor standards (collective bargaining rights, elimination of forced labor, child labor and employer discrimination) and environment (precautionary principle, environmental responsibility and eco-technology).

globalization: the increasing integration of economies and societies around the world, transcending the boundaries of the nation state, particularly through international trade and the flow of capital, ideas and people, the transfer of culture and technology, and the development of transnational regulations.

global warming: the changes in the surface air temperature, referred to as the global temperature, brought about by the enhanced greenhouse effect, which is induced by emissions of greenhouse gases into the air.

Green Revolution: the technology-based development that lead to large increases in agricultural productivity in the late 20th century facilitated by the introduction of high-yielding crop varieties, the increased use of pesticides and fertilizers and improved management techniques.

H

HACCP: Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, an analysis and control program designed to avoid contamination or impurities in foodstuffs, based on principles laid down by the WHO and required by the EU for all products used in food and animal feed.

HESQ: Health, Environment, Safety and Quality

I

IEA: the International Energy Agency is an intergovernmental organization founded by the OECD to act as an energy policy advisor to its members (27 states in 2008) in their efforts to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for their citizens, with a mandate incorporating the “Three E’s” of balanced energy policy making: energy security, economic development and environmental protection.

IFA: the International Fertilizer Industry Association is the global association for companies in the fertilizer industry (450 members in 80 countries as of 2008), providing information about the industry worldwide, and the exchange of non-commercial information in the form of statistics and publications.

IFPRI: the International Food Policy Research Institute is one of 15 international agricultural research centers that receives its principal funding from governments, private foundations, and international and regional organizations, most of which are members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.

IPCC: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World Meteorological Organisation and UNEP, to provide decision-makers and others with an objective source of information. The IPCC makes assessments of scientific, technical and socio-economic literature produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change, projecting impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

IWRM (integrated water resources management): the process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.

J

joule: a measure of energy equivalent to 0.23 calories. One megajoule (MJ) = 1 million (106) joules, 1 gigajoule (GJ) = 1000,000,000, (109) joules, 1 petajoule (PJ) = 1000,000,000,000,000 (1015) joules.

L

land degradation: the loss of biological or economic productivity and complexity in croplands, pastures and woodlands; mainly due to climate variability and unsustainable human activity.

land drainage: water, or a very dilute solution, that leaves the soil as a result of excess rainfall or irrigation.

leaching: the washing out of nutrients (especially nitrates) from the soil root zone.

life cycle assessment (LCA): a methodology for assessing the environmental impacts associated with a product, process or activity by identifying, quantifying and evaluating all the resources consumed, and all emissions and wastes released into a solution containing contaminants the environment throughout the life-cycle of the system investigated.

LTI rate: (lost-time injury rate) an indicator of the safety performance of a company, defined as the number of injuries per million worked hours leading to absence from work of one day or more.

M

materiality: an approach in sustainability reporting designed to focus on a company’s most significant economic, environmental and social impacts, or topics that will have the greatest business impact and/or substantial influence on the decisions of stakeholders.

mega-city: a city (urban area) of more than 10 million inhabitants.

micronutrients: nutrients required by plants in very small quantities (B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn).

millennium development goals: a set of eight development goals established at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, formulated as an international action plan aimed at fighting poverty and promoting economic and social development.

mineral fertilizer: a manufactured fertilizer containing one or more major nutrients in inorganic form or as urea or cyanamide (or rarely in the form of other synthetic organic compounds).

mitigation: structural and non-structural measures undertaken to limit the adverse impact of natural hazards, environmental degradation and technological hazards.

monoculture: growing the same crop in the same field year after year.

N

nutrition: the intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs. Good nutrition – an adequate, well balanced diet – is a cornerstone of good health. Poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development, and reduced productivity.

O

organic farming: agricultural practices which promote biodiversity, biological cycles and biological activity within the soil, accompanied by using, where possible, agronomic, biological and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials.

organic fertilizer: material of animal or plant origin containing one or more fertilizer nutrients, usually not all immediately available to plants (e.g. in the form of dried blood, guano, industrial wastes).

P

pesticide: a chemical used to protect crops and livestock by killing pests in crops or animals, primarily insects, sometimes also used to include fungicides and herbicides.

photosynthesis: the process by which green plants use solar energy to synthesize carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water.

plant nutrient: a chemical element or ion essential for plant growth.

pollution: the presence of minerals, chemicals or physical properties at levels that exceed the values deemed to define a boundary between “good or acceptable” and “poor or unacceptable” quality, which is a function of the specific pollutant.

product safety data sheets: detailed technical information designed to ensure the safe handling, transportation, storage and use of products. Data sheets include information on the composition and properties of products, and describe health, environmental and safety aspects and considerations.

product stewardship: an approach to production and product management designed to address environmental, safety and health issues throughout the value chain, based on the principle that a company’s responsibility for its products covers the whole chain, from the extraction of raw materials to product application and waste management.

R

REACH: the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation which aims to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances, and by the substitution of dangerous chemicals.

renewable energy: energy supplies derived from natural sources able to regenerate themselves, thereby enabling sustainable long-term consumption of energy by humans (e.g. solar, wind, tide, geothermal, biomass).

S

selective catalytic reduction (SCR): a means of converting nitrogen oxide NOx into diatomic nitrogen (N2) and water with the aid of a catalyst.

shaping issue: an issue, or cluster of issues, that profoundly effects global development and consequently influences business environments in general, and a company’s strategic direction and development in particular. The shaping issues chosen by Yara (energy supply, climate change, food security and health concern) are global issues relevant to the company’s core business and to which it can make significant positive contributions.

soil fertility: the overall ability of soil to support vigorous crop growth by ensuring adequate plant nutrients and suitable conditions for water uptake, and by providing favorable conditions for root growth and development. Fertility is a synthesis of chemical, physical and biological components and is also influenced by climatic and management factors.

surface water: all water naturally open to the atmosphere, including rivers, lakes, reservoirs, streams, impoundments, seas and estuaries, also covering springs, shallow wells or other collectors of water that are directly influenced by surface water. (GEO-4)

sustainability risks: business risks deriving from global trends and challenges relevant to sustainable development, or business risk related to the company’s sustainability performance, i.e. economic, environmental and social performance.

sustainable agriculture: a way of conducting agricultural activities without causing irreversible damage to ecosystems that is economically viable, ecologically sound and capable of long-term operation, integrating environmental stewardship, farm profitability and prosperous local communities.

sustainable business development: a way of conducting business activities based on a corporate policy which takes into account business success, environmental impacts and relationships with the community, and puts these on a balanced footing for the long-term.

sustainable development: a concept defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) in 1987, as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Sustainable development focuses on three major, integral, aspects of development: economical, ecological and societal.

T

TRI rate (Total Recordable Injury rate): an indicator for the safety performance of a company, defined as the number of recordable injuries per million hours worked.

U

urbanization: the process of human movement and centralization towards and into cities and urban areas.

W

waterlogging: a process whereby more water is channeled onto land than the soil can absorb.

water scarcity: a state where annual water supplies drop below 1,000 m3 per person, or when more than 40 per cent of available water is used.

water stress: a state where low water supplies limit food production and economic development, and affect human health. An area experiences water stress when annual water supplies drop below 1,700 m3 per person.

WHO: the World Health Organization is a specialized UN agency, the directing and coordinating authority for health within the UN system, responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.