The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, of which BCSSW Dean Gautam N. Yadama is a commissioner, has released a report analyzing the scope of the health and economic costs of air, water, soil, and occupational pollution in the world today. The report represents the first global analysis of the impacts from all forms of pollution measured together, while exploring the enormous economic costs (estimates suggest as much as $4.6 trillion) and the social injustices of pollution.
Comprised of many of the world’s most influential leaders, researchers, and practitioners in the fields of pollution management, environmental health, and sustainable development—including Yadama and Boston College’s Vice Provost for Research and Professor and Deluca Chair of Biology Thomas Chiles—the Commission was convened to provide actionable solutions to policymakers seeking to address the immense toll pollution takes on populations across the globe. In 2012, the World Health Organization estimated that exposures to pollution caused 8.9 million deaths worldwide; by comparison, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis caused a combined 2.5 million deaths.
“Pollution is a tax on the poor—their health, livelihoods, and life chances. It is also a complex environmental, health, and social problem that requires a concerted, transdisciplinary approach to finding interventions that create positive change for the large number of people who are living in poverty worldwide,” said Yadama. “We must reframe pollution as a problem of the common good. We must reframe the fight against pollution as a collective action problem. We must reimagine ways to rely less on fossil fuels and more on renewables. And we must envision ways to leapfrog the poor to clean energy solutions.”
The Lancet study offers recommendations about how to begin to solve the problem of pollution on a global scale and provides case studies of projects underway that have successfully controlled pollution levels. By engaging the perspective of policymakers, and other political and academic leaders alike, the report aims to speak to a broad audience in order to elevate pollution to an issue of global scale.
The Commission was designed to connect the issue of pollution directly with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and, already, the preparation of the report has seeded significant results. UN Environment’s next global conference will focus exclusively on pollution, and the World Health Organization has increased its focus on pollution-related disease.
“I am hopeful that, in delineating the pathways of pollution’s wide-ranging impact,” said Yadama, “the Commission might influence policy, behavioral, and technology responses to reduce pollution.”
For more information on the report’s findings, visit: http://gahp.net/the-lancet-report-2/.