Pollution touches all parts of the planet. It affects our health through the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. The WHO estimates that 23 per cent of all deaths worldwide – amounting to 12.6 million in 2012 -are due to environmental risks, and pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world today. Low-income and middle-income countries bear the brunt of pollution-related illnesses, with a disproportionate impact on children, women and the most vulnerable.
There are many success stories in addressing pollution, as technologies and management strategies advance. However, pollution remains pervasive and continues to pose a direct threat to human health and the environment. With the end goal to eradicate all forms of pollution by 2030, the UN Environment Programme was tasked by the UN Environment Assembly to coordinate the implementation of a global plan "Towards a pollution-free planet”.
Addressing pollution is not only an environmental priority: it will reduce the burden of disease, improve the quality of lives, avoid economic losses and advance the achievement of the SDGs.