Lancet Commission Report Links Pollution Control to SDG Implementation
UN Photo/Kibae Park/Sipa Press
story highlights

The report provides recommendations to governments and a roadmap that details pollution control measures.

It underscores that pollution must be viewed not solely as an environmental issue, but rather as a “transcendent problem” affecting the whole of society, and pollution control will help achieve many of the SDGs.

19 October 2017: Pollution was responsible for around nine million premature deaths in 2015, according to a Lancet Commission report on pollution and health, which aims to reduce air, soil and water pollution by communicating their health and economic costs, providing solutions to policymakers and “dispelling the myth” that pollution is an inevitable consequence of development.

According to the report, nearly 92% of pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with air pollution being the biggest contributor, linked to 6.5 million deaths, followed by water, workplace-related and lead pollution. The report also notes that water pollution and household air pollution are more common in the early stages of a country’s development, while ambient air pollution (including ozone), and chemical, occupational and soil pollution are more common as countries reach higher development levels.

Pollution control will contribute to many of the SDGs, including SDG 3 (health and wellbeing), SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), SDG 14 (life below water) and SDG 15 (life on land).

The report recommends that governments, inter alia: integrate pollution challenges and control strategies into planning processes; end government subsidies and tax breaks for polluting industries; establish systems to monitor pollution and its health effects; build multi-sectoral partnerships for pollution control; and integrate pollution mitigation into non-communicable diseases (NCD) planning processes. It also calls on other relevant stakeholders to prioritize funding for pollution planning, interventions and research, as pollution is often neglected by funding agencies.

The publication further provides a roadmap that details pollution control measures related to: outdoor air pollution, such as controlling vehicle emissions; household air pollution, such as introducing cleaner cookstoves; soil, heavy metals and chemicals, such as cleaning up toxic sites; water pollution and sanitation, including funding wastewater treatment plants; and the workplace, including regulating occupational exposures.

Noting that pollution control must be central to agricultural and industrial development, the report underscores that pollution must be viewed not solely as an environmental issue, but rather as a “transcendent problem” affecting the whole of society. Pollution control will contribute to many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 3 (health and wellbeing), SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), SDG 14 (life below water) and SDG 15 (life on land). It will also benefit from progress on SDG 13 (climate action), including through reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), such as black carbon. It will also help advance implementation of pollution-related targets, including targets 3.9 (reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination) and 6.3 (improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials).

The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health is a two-year initiative of The Lancet, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, with additional coordination and input from UN Environment (UNEP), UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the World Bank. [GAHP Press Release] [Report of the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health] [Open Letter from the Commission Co-Chairs] [Lancet Report Landing Page] [GAHP Infographic] [Lancet Pollution and Health Infographic] [About the Commission]


related events


related posts