People, Environment

Pollution Kills 1.4m in Europe

Pollution Kills 1.4m in EuropePollution Kills 1.4m in Europe

As some 1.4 million people in Europe and Central Asia die prematurely each year from polluted environments, theUnited Nations agency heads in a high-level meeting called for regional leaders to scale up action to stem environmental deaths and diseases.

“In the era of sustainable development, we can prevent the 1.4 million environment-related deaths by making health a political choice across all government sectors,” said Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, World Health Organization's regional director for Europe, at the opening of the Sixth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

European citizens annually lose 50 million years of healthy life due to environmental risks, corresponding to at least 15% of Europe's total deaths–around half of which is due to outdoor and indoor air pollution, the UN website reported.

“We urge all European leaders to take this opportunity for more sustainable policies to address the health challenges of the 21st century,” he said. WHO/Europe, the UN Economic Commission for Europe and the UN Environment Program, joined approximately 500 representatives from the 53 countries of the European region together with international and non-governmental organizations, to commit to prioritizing action on environmental risks to health.

“We have enough evidence. We have solutions at hand. What we need is action,” agreed Olga Algayerova, executive secretary of UNECE. “Examples of solutions developed over the past 20 years by UNECE and WHO/Europe with a proven track record include the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, the Protocol on Water and Health and the joint Program on Transport, Health and Environment.

"But we must do more to fulfill their potential to clean the air and water, and promote smart cities and clean transport systems. And while doing more, we must build on the synergies embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals.”

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