The Lancet Commission on pollution and health

The Lancet Commission on pollution and health addresses the full health and economic costs of air, water, and soil pollution. Through analyses of existing and emerging data, the Commission reveals pollution’s severe and underreported contribution to the Global Burden of Disease.

Pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and premature death in the world today. Pollution disproportionately kills the poor and the vulnerable. Nearly 92% of pollution-related deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries and, in countries at every income level, disease caused by pollution is most prevalent among minorities and the marginalised.

Given the close linkages between poverty and exposure to toxic pollution and the need to reduce, if not eliminate, both, the SDGs seem to recognise that some actions to achieve the broader goals, such as SDG 1 (end poverty) and SDG 2 (end hunger), could, if unchecked, result in exacerbation of pollution exposures. Hence, pollution control must be central to agricultural and industrial development, if development of these is to be truly sustainable. To this end, the SDGs make repeated references to preventing and reducing pollution. These include SDG 2·4 (improving soil quality), SDG 7 (clean energy), SDG 9·4 (clean echnologies and industrial processes), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), and SDGs 14–15 (water and land
conservation). Achievement of these SDGs will also positively affect environmental justice and fulfil SDG 10 (reduced inequalities). Importantly, measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and short-lived climate pollutants, such as black carbon, will help achieve SDG 13 (climate action).

Source: The Lancet journals