UNEP Outlines Integrated Actions to Tackle Soil Pollution in Preparation for UNEA-4
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UNEA resolution 3/6 called for a report on the extent and future trends of soil pollution, considering both point source contamination and diffuse pollution and on the risks and impacts of soil pollution on health, the environment and food security.

The UNEP progress report to UNEA-4 highlights the convening of the Global Symposium on Soil Pollution in May 2018.

The report also draws attention to a complementary UNEP-led global nitrogen assessment project funded by the GEF that will focus on the impacts of forms of reactive nitrogen in the environment, including within soils.

February 2019: The third session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-3) adopted a resolution requesting member States and relevant UN bodies to explore ways to address soil pollution in a more integrated manner within the global environmental, food security and agriculture, development and health agendas, “especially through preventive approaches and risk management using available science.” A report by UNEP to be presented to UNEA-4 details some follow-up activities taken in the intersessional period to promote such integrated actions.

In resolution 3/6 titled, ‘Managing Soil Pollution to Achieve Sustainable Development,’ UNEA called for a report on the extent and future trends of soil pollution, considering both point source contamination and diffuse pollution and on the risks and impacts of soil pollution on health, the environment and food security, including land degradation and the burden of disease resulting from exposure to contaminated soil.

The UNEP progress report to UNEA-4 titled, ‘Progress in the Implementation of Resolution 3/6 on Managing Soil Pollution to Achieve Sustainable Development’ (UNEP/EA.4/9), highlights the convening of the Global Symposium on Soil Pollution, jointly organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2018. The report notes that relevant actions at the Symposium included a side event to discuss follow-up to the UNEA-3 resolution and the launch of a report by the Global Soil Partnership’s (GSP) Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) titled, ‘Soil Pollution: Hidden Reality,’ which provides a comprehensive summary of the state of soil pollution and identifies the main pollutants and their sources affecting human health and the environment.

The report further explains that UNEP will continue to work closely with the ITPS to coordinate the follow-up to UNEA resolution 3/6, with ITPS providing technical and scientific support while UNEP will seek to link such scientific outputs to policy making.

Other follow-up actions highlighted in the report include a consultation workshop held in Paris, France, in June 2018 that provided an opportunity for stakeholder input and engagement to shape the implementation plan. The workshop noted overlaps between UNEA resolution 3/6 and resolution 3/4 on environment and health, with regard to the impact of pesticides and fertilizers on human health. The report explains that a follow-up planning meeting was convened by UNEP and FAO in October 2018 to discuss how to harmonize responses on the two resolutions.

With regard to future activities, the report highlights a contribution of EUR 30,000 from France and calls for UNEA-4 to consider ways to enhance ongoing resource mobilization efforts to ensure full implementation of the resolution.

The progress report also draws attention to a complementary UNEP-led global nitrogen assessment funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) that will focus on the impacts of forms of reactive nitrogen in the environment, including within soils.

UNEA-4 will convene under the theme, ‘Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production,’ from 11-15 March 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya. [Progress in the Implementation of Resolution 3/6 on Managing Soil Pollution to Achieve Sustainable Development]


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