Monday, 18 January 2021

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Moving towards a pollution-free planet

Pollution Free event, Brussels, Erik Solheim (Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme)

Pollution has become the biggest killer of human’s on earth, with more than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age linked to environmental risks and 6.5 million people dying from air pollution every year. The global threat of the pollution from chemicals, waste and other sources is visible in different forms in our air, land, fresh water, and oceans. Moving away from it in all of its different forms Towards a Pollution-Free Planet is the theme at the heart of the upcoming Third UN Environment Assembly taking place in Nairobi early December 2017.

During an event on the preparation of the Assembly at the European Parliament in Brussels, Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) remained positive on the possibility of a pollution-free planet, stating that humanity has solved problems of similar size in the past.

Mr. Solheim highlighted that the path towards a pollution-free will require a greater collaboration between all different global stakeholders. “It is just a matter of mobilizing the political will and innovative forces of business.”, he stated while addressing the need for a combination of forces from civil society, governments and business.

As one of the examples of initiatives demonstrating the political leadership of governments, Mr. Solheim noted with approval the recent prohibition of plastic bans in Nairobi, home to UNEP’s global base.  Kenya joined a wave of other countries coming forward with stronger legislations to combat plastic pollution. These efforts can be linked to the framework of the Clean Seas Campaign, an effort to cleaning up marine litter and one of the most successful UNEP campaigns to date.

Next to these positive developments in government initiatives, a stronger mobilization from citizens and civil society is needed. Fighting pollution should be set out as a citizens’ issue. Voting for green politicians, making strong demands towards governments and businesses to act and provide better products are just some examples of actions to take.

In the lead up to the third Assembly in Nairobi, UNEP launched a new platform: the #BeatPollution Pledge. Governments, businesses and citizens alike are invited to submit their voluntary commitments to address the pollution threat. Nearly 500.000 commitments have already been made and more are expected to follow, sending a powerful message on the need to act on pollution.

Find out how you can contribute to a pollution-free planet and to sign the #BeatPollution pledge to reduce your pollution footprint on


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