193 nations pledge to move ahead for pollution-free planet

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Nairobi, Dec 7: Moving towards a pollution-free planet, 193 nations on Wednesday unanimously asked the United Nations Environment to submit a plan linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for execution by its next assembly in 2019.

The nations, including India, resolved to encourage sustainable lifestyles and move forward to ensure more sustainable consumption and production patterns by providing reliable sustainability information to the consumers.

After three days' hectic negotiations in the third United Nations Environment Assembly that culminated in this Kenyan capital, the countries asked to make it easier to rethink, reuse, recycle, recover and remake any products, materials and prevent and reduce waste generation.

"This type of political declaration is first of the kind. It has been an astonishing success," UN Environment head Erik Solheim told IANS.

He said the nations needed a three-pronged strategy to deal with the litter.

"The plastic material needs to be recycled. The air pollution sources need to be minimized through electrical mobility and promoting public transportation. And (there's) a need to stop the processing of chemicals like mercury, a major pollutant," an optimistic Solheim said.

Stressing the important role India and China need to play in fighting pollution, he said: "The United Nations can bring people together and inspire them. I'm very optimistic with India's approach. During my meeting with China's Environment Minister Li Ganjie, we see huge progress in China."

"In the most polluted areas in China, Beijing and Shanghai you see a substantial reduction in pollution. The government of China is taking determined action. The number of coal burning has gone down drastically. This doesn't mean that all problems are solved.

"There are a number of agreements with India and the United Nations Environment can work together in the days to come. Pollution was one of the key issues discussed during the meeting with the minister (India's Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan)," he said.

"The World Environment Day in going to take place in India in June next year. That's their platform for setting aside environment practices. I see the same shift in the environment policy of India as China," Solheim added.

"We will promote fiscal measures such as incentives to stimulate positive changes, taking into account the importance of minimizing pollution and making every effort to invest in more sustainable, environmentally sound solutions," said the three-page declaration.

"We will strengthen and enforce more integrated policies, laws and regulations. We will continue to develop and expand partnerships between governments, the private sector, academia, relevant United Nations agencies and programmes, indigenous peoples and local communities, civil society and individuals."

Asking the United Nations Environment Executive Director to submit a plan for implementation for their consideration, the ministers pledged to advocate for this declaration in all relevant fora, including at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.



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