New initiative to improve environmental health

Two UN agencies are teaming up to combat environmental health risks, which claim around 12.6 million lives per year.

The partnership between the UN environment agency UNEP and the World Health Organization (WHO) includes specific action to address air pollution, climate change and antimicrobial resistance as well as improve coordination on waste and chemicals management, water quality, and food and nutrition issues.

“Our health is directly related to the health of the environment we live in. Together, air, water and chemical hazards kill some 12.6 million people a year. This cannot and must not continue,” Tedros Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO said in a statement announcing the new partnership.

“There is an urgent need for [us] 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,” added Erik Solheim, executive director of UNEP.

The new collaboration has a particular focus on the developing world as the worst impacts of environmental pollution and the related deaths occur in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The initiative also includes joint management of the BreatheLife advocacy campaign to reduce air pollution for multiple climate, environment and health benefits.

The two UN agencies have a long history of cooperating on environmental and health issues.


Image credit: UNICEF/Noorani

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