World leaders gather in Nairobi for pollution-free planet

Nairobi, December 3 (IANS): The UN Environment Assembly, the world’s highest decision making body on the environment with delegates from 193 countries, will gather in this Kenyan capital for three days from Monday to step up action to counter rising pollution levels.

 

Tackling pollution is a crucial insurance policy for current and future generations, United Nations Environment head Erik Solheim said in a message ahead of the third Assembly that will see a gathering of UN organizations, specialised agencies, inter-governmental organizations, celebrities and CEOs of multinational companies.

 

This year’s Assembly will be climate-neutral and will feature side events that confront pollution in its various forms, a spokesperson for UN Environment told IANS here.

 

The Assembly aims to deliver a number of tangible commitments to end the pollution of air, land, waterways and oceans and to safely manage chemicals and waste.

 

A political declaration on pollution, linked to the Sustainable Development Goals to signal that humanity can work together to eliminate the threat of pollution and the destruction of planet is likely to be adopted, the spokesperson said.

 

Resolutions and decisions adopted by the member states to address specific dimensions of pollution will also be on the agenda.

 

At the summit, high-profile leaders and corporate honchos will share their experiences in the areas related to the promotion of business models, integrated policies and regulations, multi-stakeholder partnerships, innovation and safe technologies towards the cleaner planet.

 

A list of Who’s Who at the Assembly includes former Indian and US astronauts Rakesh Sharma and Mae Jemison, NASA’s chief climate scientist Paul Newman, international singer Ellie Goulding, Bollywood actress Dia Mirza, Chinese billionaire and environmental activist Wang Wenbiao and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change head Patricia Espinosa.

 

Wei Wei Hu, head of Chinese bike-sharing startup Mobike, is also attending. One hundred bicycles provided by her company for delegates to move around during the Assembly will play an important role in the campus mobility project.

 

Mobilising finance and investment in low-carbon opportunities and cleaner production and consumption will drive innovation and help to counter pollution, Solheim said.

 

“Frankly, what’s happening in many cities around the world is criminal and people deserve far better. Living in a city should not mean being condemned to poor health and an early death. On the positive side, both policy-makers and citizens are increasingly aware of the issue,” Solheim told IANS.

 

More and more companies are starting to see the benefits of sustainable practices.

 

“I think we’ve seen a shift from the kind of superficial, ‘greenwashing’ type initiatives to a more fundamental understanding that sustainable business is good business. The financial sector and big investors are also looking at not just the balance sheets, but the long-term sustainability of any company’s business model,” Solheim added.

 

“The wider picture, however, is still somewhat mixed. I think the sustainable business revolution is on a par with the importance of the digital revolution, and the pressure is on for a lot of companies to get with the programme or get left behind.”

 

The launch of a UN Environment report on natural resource with case studies from India and China and hundreds of cyclists hitting the road to beat pollution with high-level participants like Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko and Dutch and Chinese Ambassadors Frans Makken and Liu Xianfa, as also Solheim, have been lined up on the margins of the Assembly.

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