The UNEP is a world environmental authority engaged in establishing a worldwide environmental agenda and promoting the efficient implementation of the environmental dimension of the United Nations Sustainable Development Programme.
The rising pollution levels of the 1960s and 1970s prompted the international leadership to believe having laws and regulations in situ for environmental concerns, along the likes of the International Labour Organisation, the planet Health Organisation (WHO), etc.
These concerns were addressed at the 1972 United Nations Conference on Human Environment (also referred to as the Stockholm Conference).
The Conference led to the adoption of the Stockholm Declaration (Declaration on the Human Environment).The Conference also resulted within the formation of a management body for these concerns, which was later called the United Nations Environment Programme. Headquartered in Nairobi, the UNEP is headed by an executive.
The UNEP’s stated mission is to supply leadership and promote partnership in caring for the environment through informing, inspiring and enabling countries and peoples to reinforce their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
The UNEP features a few focus areas, during which they prioritise work. They are:
1. Climate change
2. Ecosystem management
3. Disasters and conflicts
4. Environmental governance
5. Resource efficiency
6. Chemicals and waste
7. Environment under review
The UNEP engages in developing global conventions on the environment and related issues.
It hosts the secretariats of varied conventions such as:
i. Minamata Convention
ii. Convention on Biological Diversity
iii. Convention on International trade species of untamed Fauna and Flora (CITES)
iv. Basel Convention
v. Stockholm Convention
vi. Rotterdam Convention
vii. Montreal Protocol
viii. Vienna Convention
ix. Convention on Migratory Species
x. Tehran Convention
xi. Bamako Convention
xii. Carpathian Convention
xiii. Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)
It promotes ecology and related information.
It finances and implements developmental projects associated with the environment.
It engages with national governments, NGOs, etc. in reference to environmental policy and implementation.
The UNEP also formulates treaties and guidelines within the domain of international trade harmful chemicals, international waterways pollution and transboundary pollution of air.
It also awards and honours individuals also as institutions that do stellar add this field.
United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA)
The UNEP’s administration is named the United Nations Environment Assembly, which is claimed to be the world’s highest deciding body on the environment.
It meets once in two years to determine priorities for international environmental policies and develop international environmental law.
Formed in 2012, it's headed by a Bureau and its President.
The Bureau comprises ten environment ministers of varied countries who all hold two-year terms, supported geographical rotation.
Currently, it's 193 member states (all UN member countries).
UNEP and India
India has had an in depth relationship with the UNEP since the programme’s inception. There are many projects completed, also as ongoing projects, of the UNEP in India.
The UNEP’s presence in India started in 2016 with an office at New Delhi.
The nodal agency for India’s interactions with the UNEP is that the GOI’s Ministry for Environment, Forests and global climate change.
The Permanent Representative of India to UNEP is India’s diplomat for Kenya.
India’s annual financial contribution to the UNEP is to the tune of USD 100,000.
The UNEP has recognised India’s initiatives within the environment sector.
The UNEP awarded PM Narendra Modi with the ‘Champions of the Earth’ award along side French President Emmanuel Macron within the category ‘policy leadership’.
This was in recognition of the, among others, the International Solar Alliance, initiated by India.
In 2019, India joined the Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), whose Secretariat is hosted by the UNEP.
India plans to figure with CCAC nations on best practices and experiences for the effective implementation of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).
Pollution and Sustainable Development Goals
Pollution refers to the introduction of contaminants into the environment through natural causes or as a by-product of economic and group action. A predominant form is pollution where pollutants emitted into the atmosphere alter the standard of air.
Similarly, pollution can affect water, soil and other natural environments, and may arise from noise, light or heat sources. While the impacts of pollution are distinct from those of global climate change, there's a robust overlap in terms of causes, for instance, the transport sector may be a major source of both pollution and greenhouse emission (GHG) emissions.
Burgeoning economic process and a growing population is predicted to steer to further pollution and subsequent environmental and health problems.
for instance, between 2008 and 2013, pollution levels increased by a mean of 8 per cent in urban areas round the world (UNEP 2017a) pollution is particularly severe in a number of the world’s fastest-growing urban regions, where economic activity contributes to higher levels of pollution and greater exposure. Consequently, the health risk posed by pollution is that the greatest in developing countries, like in South Asia, East Asia and therefore the Pacific.
In 2013, about 93 per cent of deaths and nonfatal illnesses attributed to pollution worldwide occurred in these countries, where 90 per cent of the population was exposed to dangerous levels of pollution (WBG and IHME 2016).
It is estimated that quite half the world’s population will sleep in urban areas of Asian countries by 2020 as increased economic development within the region results in rapid urbanization. there's a transparent connection between soaring increase, rapid industrialization, increased vehicle use, and poor urban air quality in major Asian cities (Haq, Han and Kim 2002). By improving air quality, cities and countries can improve the wellbeing of their populations, reduce the health costs from air pollution-related diseases and support sustainable growth.
These issues are reflected in several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including SDG11.6 which aims to scale back the adverse environmental impact of cities by paying special attention to, among others, air quality, municipal and other waste management.
SDG7 which seeks to make sure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all would even have substantial health benefits since, for instance, a shift to wash cooking stoves would decrease indoor pollution while a discount in fuel energy use would abate pollution and related ill-health and premature deaths worldwide.