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Action urged over pollution

By Lucie Morangi in Nairobi, Kenya | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-06 08:40

Delegates of the Third United Nations Environment Assembly pose for a photograph at the exhibition booth of Sina Weibo in Nairobi, Kenya, on Sunday. The poster they held was for a micro blog calling for protection of pandas. Several Chinese companies such as Mobike, Sina Weibo and Alibaba Group's Ant Financial attended the conference.Chen Cheng / Xinhua

UN meeting in Nairobi brings together 4,000 representatives

Delegates meeting in Nairobi for the opening of the Third United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday want the global community to show more practical commitment toward tackling pollution.

The three-day meeting at UN Environment Program headquarters in the Kenyan capital has brought together more than 4,000 heads of state, ministers, business leaders, UN officials and civil society representatives. It is the world's highest-level decision-making body on the environment.

"Our attention is drawn on solutions. We need to show more seriousness that we want to live in a clean environment. Many will continue to suffer if we do nothing especially the most vulnerable groups such as children," said President of UN General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak. "Written declarations are not enough. Concrete steps are needed."

Edgar Gutierrez, Costa Rica's minister of environment and energy and president of the UNEA meeting, said: "Our collective goal must be to embrace ways to reduce pollution drastically. Only through stronger collective action, beginning in Nairobi this week, can we start cleaning up the planet globally and save countless lives."

Judy Wakungu, Kenyan cabinet secretary of environment, said there was need for stronger efforts toward a pollution-free planet.

"It is time to address this without delay," she said.

Upsurge

There is an upsurge in the number of people affected by pollution, according to a recent UN report - the Executive Director's Report: Towards a Pollution-Free Planet - which the meeting is using as the basis for defining the problems and laying out new action areas.

The report's recommendations - political leadership and partnerships at all levels, action on the worst pollution, lifestyle changes, low-carbon tech investments and advocacy - are based on analysis of pollution in all its forms, including air, land, freshwater, marine, chemical and waste.

Overall, environmental degradation causes nearly one in four of all deaths worldwide, or 12.6 million people a year, and the widespread destruction of key ecosystems, according to the report.

"Given the grim statistics on how we are poisoning ourselves and our planet, bold decisions from the UN Environment Assembly are critical," said Erik Solheim, head of UNEP. "That is as true for threats like pollution as it is for climate change and the many other environmental threats we face."

A broader UNEP policy statement, released ahead of the meeting, highlights the links between events over the last 12 months - hurricanes in the Caribbean and United States, droughts in the Horn of Africa and Yemen, flooding in Bangladesh, India and Europe - and the decisions taken on the ecosystems, energy, natural resources, urban expansion, infrastructure, production, consumption and waste management.

Solheim made it clear that all of the complex global processes linked to the environment, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, boil down to one simple message: We must take care of people and planet.

lucymorangi@chinadaily.com.cn

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