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Pact to protect the health of planet

| Updated on January 19, 2018

UN Environment and the World Health Organisation have agreed on a new, wide-ranging collaboration to accelerate action to curb environmental health risks that cause an estimated 12.6 million deaths a year.

Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, signed the agreement to step up joint actions to combat air pollution, climate change and antimicrobial resistance, as well as improve coordination on waste and chemicals management, water quality, and food and nutrition issues. The collaboration also includes joint management of the BreatheLife advocacy campaign to reduce air pollution for climate, environment and health benefits.

This represents the most significant formal agreement on joint action across the spectrum of environment and health issues in over 15 years. “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 recognises that sober reality,” said UN Environment’s Solheim.

“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,” said WHO’s Tedros. “Most of these deaths occur in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America where environmental pollution takes its biggest health toll.”

The new collaboration creates a systematic framework for joint research, development of tools and guidance, capacity building, monitoring of Sustainable Development Goals, global and regional partnerships.

The collaboration follows a Ministerial Declaration on Health, Environment and Climate Change calling for the creation of a global “Health, Environment and Climate Change” Coalition, at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP 22 in Marrakesh in 2016.

Published on January 19, 2018

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