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UNEP Executive Director addresses WHO regional meeting

UNEP chief Achim Steiner has lauded the European Environment Health Ministerial Process (EHP) as a unique opportunity for the UN, government, non-governmental organisations and others to contribute to each other’s work and laid out his vision for future collaboration.


Set up in the late 1980s, the EHP has since brought together 53 European governments to set targets to reduce, prevent and eliminate the most significant environmental threats to the health and well-being of children, such as outdoor and indoor air pollution, accidents and injuries and exposure to hazardous chemicals.


UNEP contributed technical expertise to both the Environment and Health Ministerial Board (EHMB) and Environment and Health Task Force. This included a mid-term review report titled ‘Improving environment and health in Europe: how far have we gotten?’ available by clicking here.


The report describes progress made and challenges remaining to reduce the high burden of disease due to environmental factors and its unequal distribution among people in the WHO European Region.


In a video message to a WHO Regional Committee for Europe meeting taking place on 16 September, the Executive Director told delegates that UNEP was “very proud” to have contributed to the process, adding that national leadership and vision will now count in implementing the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Under the theme of ‘Healthy Environment, Health People,’ the next UN Environment Assembly meeting can complement work at national level and identify tools for fulfilling the SDGs, said Mr Steiner.


UNEP stands ready to continue supporting the development of standards and policy responses in order to tackle air pollution for example, which – causing 7 million premature deaths each year - remains “one of the challenges of our time,” the Executive Director affirmed.


The message fed into discussions between European health and environment officials during the WHO Regional Committee’s 65th session.


For more information on UNEP’s work with the EHP please click here
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