Islamabad: UN Environment and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have signed up for a new collaboration to accelerate action to curb environmental health risks that cause an estimated 12.6 million deaths a year.
Only two days ago in Nairobi, the heads of both UN agencies signed an 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 agreement is being seen as representing the most significant formal contract on joint action across the spectrum of environment and health issues in over 15 years. It 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 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP 22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2016.
The collaboration creates a 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.
The two agencies will develop a joint work programme and hold an annual high-level meeting to evaluate progress and make recommendations for continued collaboration. Just last month, under the overarching topic ‘Towards a Pollution-Free Planet,’ the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), which convenes environment ministers worldwide, adopted a resolution on Environment and Health, called for expanded partnerships with relevant UN agencies and partners, and for an implementation plan to tackle pollution.