UN assembly starts drafting plan for 'pollution-free planet'

2017-12-04 20:57
iStock

iStock

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nairobi - Humans are poisoning their environment and themselves at an alarming rate, with pollution of the oceans, soil and air now the biggest killer, a UN conference heard Monday.

Urging rapid and united action from governments, businesses and individual consumers, envoys underlined that nine million people are now killed by pollution every year - one in six global deaths.

"Pollution is the biggest killer on the planet and we need to defeat it," UN Environment Programme head Erik Solheim said at the third UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, Kenya.

Of the annual tally, nearly seven million people succumb from inhaling toxins in the air - from car exhaust fumes, factory emissions and indoor cooking with wood and coal, according to a recent report by The Lancet medical journal.

Lead in paint alone causes brain damage in more than half-a-million children every year.

Yet, as the human toll keeps rising, so does the trashing.

"Over 80% of the world's waste water is released into the environment without treatment," Ligia Noronha, director of the UN Environment Programme's economy division, told journalists at the assembly.

"Close to 50 million tons of e-waste are produced every year."

The UNEA is the highest decision-making forum on issues concerning the natural environment, with all 193 UN member countries represented.

It gathered environment ministers and deputies from more than 100 countries in the Kenyan capital from Monday to Wednesday, to thrash out the wording of a global, political declaration entitled: "Towards a Pollution-Free Planet".

 'A problem of human rights' 

The pact will commit UN member countries to limiting humankind's fouling of the planet with chemicals, non-biodegradable litter, and toxic smoke.

The ministers are also negotiating a number of specific anti-pollution resolutions to limit the amount of fish-choking plastic that finds its way into the ocean, for example, and to stop the use of lead in paint.

The recent report by The Lancet said welfare costs associated with pollution, including medical costs, were nearly $5tn trillion a year - more than six percent of global economic output.

"It's not just a problem of health. It's not just a problem of productivity and implications to the economy, but it's also very much a problem of human rights," said Noronha.

"People have a right to live in clean environments."

The president of the UNEA meeting, Costa Rica's environment minister Edgar Gutierrez, said he had urged government representatives to set aside narrow national interests and look past contentious issues to find "common ground".

"Looking at the whole, we have done a very bad job taking care of our environment," he said.

"And the worst part of this is that we have very little room now to make mistakes."

The assembly gathered more than 4 500 participants including government representatives, NGOs, scientists and business people.

Aside from outright poisoning, pollution causes an array of deadly ailments such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Read more on:    kenya  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

How to open a beer bottle without an opener

Do the right thing and never be thirsty again…

 
 

You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…
WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.