Global Brain Trust Quantifying Economic And Health Costs Of Pollution

The latest WHO report released this week —  Preventing disease through healthy environments: a global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks” — is key in helping the world understand that the leading global public health threat has shifted from communicable disease to non-communicable diseases driven by environmental pollution.

As Margaret Chan, WHO Director General says, “A healthy environment underpins a healthy population. If countries do not take actions to make environments where people live and work healthy, millions will continue to become ill and die too young.”

The Global Commission on Pollution, Health & Development is working to provide world leaders with the necessary data WHO is calling for.

Convened by Richard Fuller, founder of Pure Earth, and Dr. Phil Landrigan, Dean of Global Health at Mt. Sinai Hospital, the Commission’s list of commissioners include former heads of state, leaders from multilateral development agencies, a Nobel Laureate, noted physicians, economists and scientists from a broad range of backgrounds comprising an elite global brain trust on pollution.

Despite being the largest cause of death in developing countries today, toxic pollution is insufficiently addressed in national policies and in the international development agenda. The Commission research will give world leaders a complete picture of the burden that pollution places on individuals, health care systems and countries, and detail cost-effective solutions to justify concrete action.

The Commission report will be published in December 2016 in The Lancet.

Richard Fuller, president of Pure Earth and co-chair of the Commission, explains:

“The Commission will show that solutions are feasible, cost-effective and replicable. By analyzing existing and emerging data, we will uncover the devastating costs of inaction on pollution. This information is especially crucial now with the world’s attention focused on the newly-adopted Sustainable Development Goals.”

Comparing the goals of the Commission to the Stern Review Barbara Hendricks, Minister of Environment, Germany states:

 “The Commission will generate numbers – numbers with Dollar signs or Euro signs attached. Numbers that will tell us what it costs in economic terms to pollute the environment and harm people’s health through pollution…The Stern Report once pursued a similar goal. It taught us why we need to tackle climate change now and not later, because postponing action will translate in much higher costs in the end… I very much hope that the report of this new Commission will be equally successful. We need it to raise awareness. We need it to change minds. We need it to reach people that until now believe that environmental policy comes only second after investing into economic activities.”

Jairam Ramesh, Member of Parliament, India, agrees with the need for a global Commission.

“Pollution is such an enormous problem. We really have to come to grips with it. In my country, we are dealing with it in all sectors of society. The health impacts are so large and far-reaching. It just breaks your heart.”

The research and policy teams are focused on low- and middle-income countries – where 94% of deaths due to pollution occur.

Specifically, the report will:

  • Develop an analysis of the full health impacts of all forms of pollution
  • Develop a comprehensive analysis of the economic impacts of pollution, including the health care costs.
  • Communicate the link between pollution and environmental injustice
  • Produce cost-benefit analyses of solutions to pollution
  • Provide a roadmap with cost-effective, actionable solutions for countries and donors

For more information, visit www.commissiononpollution.org.

Why do we need a global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development?

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