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Current Affairs

Environment damage behind premature deaths, diseases: UN report

Date: 14 March 2019 Tags: Biodiversity, Climate Change

According to recently released UN Environment’s Global Environment Outlook (GEO) 2019, quarter of all premature deaths and diseases worldwide are due to manmade pollution and environmental damage. It calls for immediate changes in the way the world eats, generates energy and handles its waste. It is overall sixth GEO in the series.

Findings of report

  • Deadly emissions, chemicals polluting drinking water and accelerating destruction of ecosystems crucial to livelihoods of billions of people are driving worldwide epidemics and diseases that hampers the global economy.
  • There is growing chasm between rich and poor countries as rampant overconsumption, pollution and food waste in developed world leads to hunger, poverty and disease elsewhere.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) continue to rise amid preponderance of droughts, floods and superstorms made worse by climbing sea levels.
  • There is growing political consensus that climate change poses future risk to billions. But there is no consensus on meeting set targets of 2015 Paris accord.
  • Health impacts of pollution, deforestation and mechanised food-chain are less well understood.
  • Poor environmental conditions cause around 25% of global disease and mortality (around 9 million deaths in 2015 alone).
  • Due to lack of access to clean drinking supplies, 1.4 million people die each year from preventable diseases such as diarrhoea and parasites linked to pathogen-contaminated water and poor sanitation.
  • Chemicals pumped into seas are potentially causing multi-generational adverse health effects.
  • Land degradation through deforestation and mega-farming occurs in areas of earth home to 3.2 billion people.
  • Air pollution causes 6 to 7 million early deaths annually. There is rapid drawdown in GHGs and pesticide use to improve air and water quality.
  • It calls root-and-branch detoxification of human behaviour while insisting that the situation is not unassailable.

Global Environment Outlook (GEO)

  • It is series of reports on environment periodically published by UN Environmental Programme (UNEP).
  • It is also referred to as UN Environment’s flagship environmental assessment.  It was released for first time in 1997. It is prepared by consultative and participatory process.
  • It is independent assessment of state of environment, effectiveness of policy response to tackle environmental challenges and possible pathways to achieve various internationally agreed environmental goals.
  • So far, five GEO reports have been published to date UNEP vz. GEO-1 (1997), GEO-2000 (1999), GEO-3 (2002), GEO-4 (2007), GEO-5 (2012) and GEO-6 (2019).