March 2, 2024

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Stemming the Pollution Tide: A New Body to Combat Pollution’s Deadly Toll

Pollution is widespread and often fatal, dirty air alone is responsible for 6.7 million deaths globally every year, while conservative estimates suggest that in 2019, 5.5 million people died from heart disease linked to lead exposure. 

To stem the pollution crisis, countries agreed in 2022 to establish a new body that would provide policymakers with robust, independent information on chemicals, waste, and pollution. 

Negotiators are finetuning the details of this new science-policy panel. Once operational, it will complete a trifecta of similar scientific bodies designed to counter the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste.

“Pollution is an urgent global issue, on par with climate change and biodiversity loss,” says Tessa Goverse, Principal Coordinator of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)-hosted secretariat of the ad hoc open-ended working group, which is tasked with preparing the foundational elements for establishing the panel. “What we’ve been missing is a strong and comprehensive science-policy interface to tackle the pollution pillar of the triple planetary crisis. Now the global community is constructively working towards a panel that can deliver policy impacts that save lives and protect the environment for decades to come.” 

The new science-policy panel can help to translate scientific findings into action and is expected to work strategically with the recently adopted Global Framework on Chemicals and numerous Multilateral Environmental Agreements. 

Later this month, from 26 February to 1 March 2024, delegates will gather in Nairobi, Kenya for the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6), under the theme: Effective, inclusive and Sustainable Multilateral Actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. the world’s top decision-making body on the environment.

They are expected to discuss how to strengthen the implementation of international environmental accords and reinforce the link between science and policymaking.

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