New Delhi, Jan 10 (PTI) UN Environment and WHO today agreed to a new collaboration to accelerate action to curb environmental health risks that cause an estimated 12 million deaths a year, mostly in developing nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The agreement will step up joint actions to combat air pollution, climate change and anti-microbial resistance, as well as improve coordination on waste and chemicals management, water quality, and food and nutrition issues.
Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO, signed the agreement in Nairobi, according to a WHO statement released in New Delhi.
The collaboration also includes joint management of the 'BreatheLife' advocacy campaign to reduce air pollution for multiple climate, environment and health benefits.
"There is an urgent need for our two agencies to work more closely together to address the critical threats to environmental sustainability and climate Â– which are the foundations for life on this planet. This new agreement recognises that sober reality," Solheim said.
This represents the most significant formal agreement on joint action across the spectrum of environment and health issues in more than 15 years.
"Our health is directly related to the health of the environment we live in. Together, air, water and chemical hazards kill more than 12.6 million people a year. This must not continue," Tedros said.
"Most of these deaths occur in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America where environmental pollution takes its biggest health toll," he added.
The statement said 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.
"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," it said.
The priority areas of cooperation between WHO and UN Environment include more effective air quality monitoring, including guidance to countries on standard operating procedures, more accurate environment and health assessments, including economic assessment among others.
On the climate front, it would give priority to tackling vector-borne disease and other climate-related health risks.
The WHO-UN Environment collaboration comes after a ministerial declaration on health, environment and climate change called for the creation of a global Health, Environment and Climate Change Coalition, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change-COP 22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2016. PTI TDS ABH .
This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.