UN Environment and WHO have agreed on a new, wide-ranging collaboration to accelerate action to curb environmental health risks that cause an estimated 12.6 million deaths in a year.
The agreement to step up joint actions to combat air pollution, climate change and antimicrobial resistance as well as coordination on waste and chemicals management, water quality, and food and nutrition issues was signed yesterday in Nairobi.
UN Environment Head Erik Solheim and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom inked the agreement.
This represents the most significant formal agreement on joint action across the spectrum of environment and health issues in over 15 years, WHO press release said.
During the occasion, UN Environment Head Solheim said "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."
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros on his part noted that "Our health is directly related to the health of the environment we live in. Air, water and chemical hazards kill more than 12.6 million people a year. This must not continue."
According to him, "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 more systematic framework for joint research, development of tools and guidance, capacity building, monitoring of Sustainable Development Goals, global and regional partnerships, and support to regional health and environment fora, it was pointed out.
The two agencies will develop a joint work program and hold an annual high-level meeting to evaluate progress and make recommendations for continued collaboration.