Following is UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ message to the 2017 United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme, in Nairobi today:
We have the right to live in a clean environment. We expect to be able to eat, drink and breathe without risking our health. Yet, we continue to pollute our air, land, waterways and oceans. We trigger sand and dust storms due to climate change and environmental degradation. We use dangerous chemicals and substances in everyday objects. We inflict global suffering that is inexcusable, preventable and reversible.
Dedicating this Assembly to working towards a pollution-free planet highlights the urgent need for rapid, large-scale and coordinated action by leaders from Governments, industry, the scientific community and civil society. It also highlights the incredible opportunity to promote equitable and sustainable social and economic development. Beating pollution will help reduce poverty, improve public health, create decent jobs, address climate change and protect life on land and sea.
We already have much of the knowledge and technical solutions we need to prevent, mitigate and manage pollution. There are many examples of countries, cities and businesses taking action. And there are international successes, such as the entry into force of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the recent announcement that the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol will enter into force on January 2019, having obtained the required threshold of 20 ratifications. With stronger policies, regulations, laws and fiscal incentives, we can scale up such progress.
Making our planet pollution-free is a long-term necessary endeavour. The world counts on this Assembly to show strong leadership by sounding the alarm and calling on all Governments to act to beat pollution.