UN Environment Executive Director Calls for Tackling Pollution
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The report titled, ‘Towards a pollution-free planet,’ discusses the benefits of a low-carbon society.

It provides a dual-track framework for action that focuses on targeted interventions and system-wide transformations.

The publication discusses the impacts of different kinds of pollution on human health and ecosystems, and details 50 policy options for action.

27 October 2017: Economic growth and sustainable development are not mutually exclusive, according to a report by the UN Environment (UNEP) Executive Director, Erik Solheim. The Executive Director argues that green technologies investment is being increasingly recognized as having financial and economic benefits.

The report titled, ‘Towards a pollution-free planet,’ discusses the benefits of a low-carbon society. It provides a dual-track framework for action that focuses on targeted interventions and system-wide transformations. Based on risk assessments and scientific evidence, targeted interventions address “hard-hitting” pollutants. System-wide transformations seek to improve resource efficiency and equity, circularity and sustainable consumption and production, and ecosystem resilience.

The report explains how the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs provide businesses with an opportunity to act on pollution, and how pollution relates to each of the SDGs.

The report highlights the need for: political leadership and partnerships through a global compact to ensure integration of pollution prevention into national and local planning, development processes and business strategies; policies that strengthen environmental governance and more stringent implementation of environmental legislation; mobilization of finance and investment in low-carbon opportunities; increased funding for research, pollution monitoring, infrastructure, management and control; and raising citizens’ awareness to reduce their pollution footprint.

The report discusses specific impacts on human health and ecosystems of air, marine and coastal, freshwater and land/soil pollution, including the cross-cutting categories of chemicals and waste. It details 50 policy options for action related to these types of pollutants. The publication identifies gaps in combating pollution related to, inter alia: lack of implementation due to the absence of resources, capacity and/or political will; limited leadership by financial institutions and industry; mispricing, “invisibility of ecosystem values” and the externalization of pollution costs; and the lack of recognition that consumer choices have consequences for pollution.

The report explains how the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide businesses with an opportunity to act on pollution, and how pollution relates to each of the SDGs. For example, action on pollution reduces deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination (SDG 3 (good health and well-being)). Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy can reduce indoor air pollution (SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy)). Clean energy and low-carbon policies reduce air pollution and mitigate climate change impacts (SDG 13 (climate action)).

The report will be presented to the third session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 3) in December 2017, themed ‘Towards a pollution-free planet.’ UNEA 3 will convene from 4-6 December 2017, in Nairobi, Kenya. [Report of the Executive Director: Towards a Pollution Free Planet] [Publication Landing Page] [UN Environment News Story]


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