EDITORIAL| A pollution-free planet

IN A UNITED Nations conference on the environment in Nairobi, Kenya last Monday, experts raised alarm on the unmitigated poisoning of the environment , the pollution of the oceans, soil and air which has now become the biggest killer.

“Pollution is the biggest killer on the planet and we need to defeat it,” UN Environment Programme head Erik Solheim said at the third UN Environment Assembly (UNEA).

The conference gathered environment ministers from more than 100 countries to discuss a global declaration that will be entitled “Towards a Pollution-Free Planet”

The impact of pollution on the lives of people cannot be over emphasized. According to the conference report, there are nine million people killed by pollution every year — one in six global deaths. Figures presented also showed that “of the annual tally, nearly seven million people succumb from inhaling toxins in the air — from car exhaust fumes, factory emissions and indoor cooking with wood and coal.” This was taken from a report by The Lancet medical journal.

“Lead in paint alone causes brain damage in more than half-a-million children every year,” it added.

Ligia Noronha, director of the UN Environment Programme’s economy division, said “over 80 percent of the world’s waste water is released into the environment without treatment.” He also said close to 50 million tonnes of e-waste are produced every year.

“It’s not just a problem of health. It’s not just a problem of productivity and implications to the economy, but it’s also very much a problem of human rights,” he said.

The UNEA is the highest decision-making forum on issues relating to natural environment, with all 193 UN member countries represented.

On a much smaller scale, the country is also beset by problems of pollution. Although we have laws that protect us from toxic emissions or from other environment hazards, the implementation is sloppy or erratic. Among the many problems we face today, our environment concerns should not be left behind.

Posted in Opinion