UN Environment and WHO agree to fight environmental pollution together

UN Environment and WHO agree to fight environmental pollution together

UN Environment and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have signed a new agreement to combat major development issues around the world, including air pollution, climate change, water quality, food and nutrition.

The agreement improves coordination and joint management on a number of ongoing programmes.

At a signing ceremony in Nairobi, Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, commented:

"There is an urgent need for our two agencies to work more closely together to address the critical threats to environmental sustainability and climate – which are the foundations for life on this planet. This new agreement recognizes that sober reality"

The two organisations have agreed to collaborate on creating stronger air quality monitoring and guidance, including economic assessment; and tackling climate change through investigating both the increased health risks and benefits from mitigation.

The WHO will now also help manage the BreatheLife advocacy campaign. The highly successful campaign has helped engage countries, regions and cities to reduce air pollution. Commitments have so far covered more than 120 million people, including London, Washington DC, Oslo, and Santiago. Major cities in Asia and Africa are also set to join.

Other areas of collaboration will include the effective monitoring of water quality and promoting sustainable waste, such as pesticides and fertilizers.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said:

"Our health is directly related to the health of the environment we live in. Together, air, water and chemical hazards kill more than 12.6 million people a year. This must not continue. Most of these deaths occur in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America where environmental pollution takes its biggest health toll."

The two agencies have long enjoyed a fruitful relationship; the latest agreement follows work at the UN’s climate change talks in Marrakesh. At the time the agencies helped convene a ministerial declaration to promote “Health, Environment and Climate Change” as a going concern.


Image Credit: UNEP

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