World Leaders meet in Nairobi to address pollution
Over 4,000 delegates have gathered Monday at the Third UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi to tackle the global pollution menace.
The assembly which runs from Monday up to Wednesday at the UN Environment Programme headquarters in Nairobi, is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment and brings together governments, entrepreneurs, activists and others to share ideas and commit to action.
Dr. Edgar Gutiérrez, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica and the President of the 2017 assembly said the collective goal ought to embrace ways to reduce pollution drastically.
“Only through stronger collective action, can we start cleaning up the planet globally and save countless lives,” he said.
Overall, environmental degradation causes nearly one in four of all deaths worldwide, or 12.6 million deaths a year, and the widespread destruction of key ecosystems.
Over a dozen resolutions are on the table at the assembly, including new approaches to tackle air pollution, which is the single biggest environmental killer, claiming 6.5 million lives each year and with over 80 percent of cities not meeting the UN health standards on air quality
“Given the grim statistics on how we are poisoning ourselves and our planet, threats like pollution and bold decisions from the UN Environment Assembly are critical,” said head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim.
Solheim added that all of the complex global processes linked to the environment, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, boil down to one simple message: “we must take care of people and planet.”
Ligia Noronha, Director of UN Environment’s Economy Division said focusing on the quality of growth is key for improvements in quality of life 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”, Noronha added.
According to a new UN Environment report, “The Executive Director’s Report: Towards a Pollution Free Planet,” everyone on earth is affected by pollution and the report is being used as the basis for defining the problems and laying out new action areas.
The report’s recommends political leadership and partnerships at all levels, action on the worst pollutions, lifestyle changes, low-carbon tech investments, and advocacy based on analysis of pollution in all its forms, including air, land, freshwater, marine, chemical and waste pollution.
According to a report by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health , there is also huge economic cost noting that welfare losses due to pollution are estimated at over Sh460 Trillion (USD4.6 trillion ) each year, equivalent to 6.2 per cent of global economic output.
The assembly will see the participation of celebrity activists, such as UN Environment’s new Goodwill Ambassador Ellie Goulding, announcements relating to the #BreatheLife and #CleanSeas campaigns, on air and marine pollution respectively, and the release of new research reports on environmental sources of antimicrobial resistance to the state of South Sudan’s environment.
By Wangari Ndirangu