- Everyone on earth is affected by pollution: UN Environment
- Air pollution claims a massive 6.5 million lives a year
- Governments need to take action to tackle pollution: UN Environment Head
New Delhi: Over 4,000 heads of state, ministers, business leaders, UN officials and civil society representatives gathered at the third UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi to tackle the global menace of pollution. “Everyone on earth is affected by pollution,” the new UN Environment report named The Executive Director’s Report: Towards a Pollution-Free Planet said. Noting the severity of the threats posed by pollution to people and the planet, the participants together considered new policies, leadership and funding options to clean up the planet globally and save countless lives.
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The report strongly recommended that global political leadership and partnerships at all levels need to act in unison to curb pollution in all its forms, including air, land, freshwater, marine, chemical and waste pollution. It also favoured lifestyle changes, low-carbon tech investments and advocacy.
Over a dozen resolutions, including new approaches to tackle air pollution, the single biggest environmental killer that claims 6.5 million lives each year, are on the table at the three-day (Decmber 4-6) UN Environment Assembly, which brings together governments, entrepreneurs, activists and others to share ideas and commit to action to protect on environment.
Air pollution causes 1 in 9 deaths and it is the biggest health crisis we face.
Action against air pollution improves air quality and provides an healthy environment for humanity.#BreatheLife #BeatPollution pic.twitter.com/ATXYBeJZMM
— UN Environment Programme (@UNEP) December 6, 2017
According to the report, which is being used by UN Environment Assembly as the basis for defining the problems and laying out new action areas, environmental degradation causes nearly one in four of all deaths worldwide, and the widespread destruction of key ecosystems. Exposure to lead in paint, which causes brain damage to 600,000 children annually, and water and soil pollution are also key focus areas. Seas already contain 500 “dead zones” with too little oxygen to support marine life, the report further said.
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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted the need for rapid, large-scale and coordinated action by all actors to make the world pollution-free.
We already have much of the knowledge and technical solutions we need to prevent, mitigate and manage pollution, said the Secretary-General, in a message to the UN Environment Assembly.
Painting a darker picture, the report also stated that over 80 percent of the world’s wastewater is released into the environment without treatment, poisoning the fields and the lakes and rivers that provide drinking water to 300 million people. Furthermore, over 80 percent of cities don’t meet UN health standards on air quality, according to the report.
There is also a huge economic cost. A just-published report by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health says that welfare losses due to pollution are estimated at over US$4.6 trillion each year, equivalent to 6.2 per cent of global economic output.
Political leadership + bold action + global instruments + pacts with business and civil society is the recipe to #BeatPollution pic.twitter.com/YIkaWVLYXw
— Erik Solheim (@ErikSolheim) December 5, 2017
Given the grim statistics on how we are poisoning ourselves and our planet, bold decisions from the UN Environment Assembly are critical. The governments need to take actions. We are seeing actions but more actions need to step up immediately. The private sector needs to act. Also civil society, the UN Environment head Erik Solheim said.
If we want to engage with citizens on the environment we need to change our language, to drive environment home #BeatPollution pic.twitter.com/DJ3cmiWZ0O
— Erik Solheim (@ErikSolheim) December 5, 2017
“That requires a culture that supports responsible production and does not hold up unrestrained consumption as an aspirational way of life. We need to invest differently to transform our economies, also bringing in the private sector to back clean growth,” he further added.
The UN Environment also sees the participation of celebrity activists, such as UN Environment’s new Goodwill Ambassador, English singer and songwriter Ellie Goulding.
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(With inputs from IANS)