In Summary
  • Changing the behaviour of producers and buyers would be key to achieving the vision of a "pollution-free planet", the declaration says.

The world's nations vowed on Wednesday to curb plastic and chemical contamination of the air, soil, rivers and oceans, requiring a complete overhaul in the way goods are produced and consumed.

Changing the behaviour of producers and buyers would be key to achieving the vision of a "pollution-free planet" outlined in a political declaration adopted at the third UN Environment Assembly (UNEA).

POLLUTION

"Pollution is cutting short the lives of millions of people every year," said the call to action issued by government ministers in Nairobi at the world's highest-level decision-making forum on environmental issues.

"Every day, nine out of 10 of us breathe air that exceeds WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines for air quality and more than 17,000 people will die prematurely because of it," the declaration added.

It committed governments to promoting "sustainable economic productivity", and to encouraging more "sustainable lifestyles" by making it easier to reuse and recycle products, thus reducing waste.

"What we need to do next is to move concretely to a plan of action," UN Environment Programme deputy head Ibrahim Thiaw told journalists on the final day of the December 4-6 pollution-themed gathering.

PLASTIC BAN

All 193 UN states are members of the UNEA.

"Some of the actions will have to do with the way we produce and the way we consume," Thiaw said.

"Our models of production and consumption will have to change. We do not have to have models of production and consumption that harm the environment and keep killing us."

This would require "very clear policies" from governments at the national and local level, said Thiaw, such as banning single-use plastic shopping bags.

Mobile phones could be upgraded and reused instead of being replaced every few years, and plastic straws prohibited, for example.

PLEDGES

"Every year we dump 4.8 to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic in our oceans and generate over 40 million tonnes of electronic waste," the ministerial declaration said.

The UN Environment Programme said it had received 2.5 million anti-pollution pledges, including from national governments, municipalities, businesses and individuals by Wednesday.

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