UN Environment Calls for Preventing and Reducing Pollution to Realize SDGs
Original post by LEILA MEAD for IISD
All relevant stakeholders must work towards preventing and reducing pollution, according to a UN Environment report that emphasizes that pollution is controllable and avoidable if appropriate actions are taken. The report titled, ‘Towards a pollution-free planet,’ calls for, inter alia, ensuring a global pollution compact that prioritizes pollution prevention for everyone.
The report also calls for: strengthening environmental governance at all levels; promoting sustainable consumption and production through improved resource efficiency and lifestyle changes; prioritizing waste reduction and management; investing in cleaner production and consumption; and developing multi-stakeholder partnerships and collaborations for the research needed for technological and ecosystems-based solutions.
The report suggests a framework to address pollution through a “dual track of actions” through targeted interventions to address pollutants, and system-wide transformations towards greater resource efficiency, equity, sustainable consumption and production, and improved ecosystem resilience.
It highlights the role of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), along with related pollution-reducing targets, such as: Target 6.3, which aims to improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing the release of hazardous chemicals and materials; Target 14.1 on preventing and reducing marine pollution, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution; and Target 3.9 on reducing the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals, and air, water and soil pollution and contamination. The report explains that reducing pollution can also contribute to SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger) and SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), among others.
The publication suggests a framework to address pollution through a “dual track of actions” through targeted interventions to address pollutants, and system-wide transformations towards greater resource efficiency, equity, sustainable consumption and production, and improved ecosystem resilience. The report also looks at, among other issues: the economic costs of pollution; global and regional environmental agreements and national regulations; actual and potential benefits of addressing pollution; the SDGs as an opportunity to accelerate pollution action; and multi-level engagement as a way to improve environmental governance.
The report recommends 50 interventions to address pollution, including transitioning to electric mobility; treating, recycling and reusing wastewater to reduce discharge in freshwater bodies; and advancing safer alternatives to toxic chemicals through sustainable chemistry.
The report was launched on 28 September 2017, during the first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 1) to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, and ahead of the third meeting of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), which will convene from 4-6 December 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya, under the overarching theme of pollution.