World gathers in Nairobi to tackle menace of pollution

Over 4,000 heads of state, ministers, business leaders, UN officials and civil society representatives gathered Monday at the third UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi to tackle the global menace of pollution.“Our collective goal must be to embrace ways to reduce pollution drastically,” said Dr. Edgar Gutiérrez, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica and the President of the 2017 assembly. “Only through stronger collective action, beginning in Nairobi this week, can we start cleaning up the planet globally and save countless lives.”
Everyone on earth is affected by pollution, according to a new UN Environment report, The Executive Director’s Report: Towards a Pollution-Free Planet, which the meeting is using as the basis for defining the problems and laying out new action areas.
The report’s recommendations – political leadership and partnerships at all levels, action on the worst pollutions, lifestyle changes, low-carbon tech investments, and advocacy – are based on analysis of pollution in all its forms, including air, land, freshwater, marine, chemical and waste pollution.
Overall, environmental degradation causes nearly one in four of all deaths worldwide, or 12.6 million people a year, and the widespread destruction of key ecosystems.
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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. Over 80% of cities don’t meet UN health standards on air quality.
Exposure to lead in paint, which causes brain damage to 600,000 children annually, and water and soil pollution are also key focus areas. Our seas already contain 500 “dead zones” with too little oxygen to support marine life. Over 80 percent of the world’s wastewater is released into the environment without treatment, poisoning the fields where we grow our food and the lakes and rivers that provide drinking water to 300 million people.
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.
“Given the grim statistics on how we are poisoning ourselves and our planet, bold decisions from the UN Environment Assembly are critical,” said head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim. “That is as true for threats like pollution as it is for climate change and the many other environmental threats we face.” – EIN News Desk