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UNEP’s AEO-3 Highlights Health Effects of Environmental Change

21 February 2013: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released the Third African Environment Outlook (AEO-3) Summary for Policy Makers, commissioned by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). The report focuses on the links between environment and health, and includes subsections on: air quality; biodiversity; chemicals and waste; climate change and variability; coastal and marine resources; freshwater and sanitation; and land.

The Summary for Policy Makers of "Africa Environment Outlook 3: Our Environment, Our Health" is intended to provide information to assist AMCEN member countries strengthen capacity for policy making and advocacy at national, regional and global levels. The report highlights emerging issues, assesses trends related to environmental change, and reviews the consequences for human health in the region, and proposes new policy directions for enabling transformative changes for a sustainable future.

The report notes that environmental risks contribute 28% of Africa's disease burden. Key recommendations from the report on air pollution include rethinking national electrification programmes, and accelerating access to improved technologies and alternative sources of cleaner energy.

On ecosystem management, the report recommends the scaling up of community-based natural resources management and payment for ecosystem services, to conserve biodiversity that provides food and medicinal plants.

On chemicals, the Outlook recommends strengthening the knowledge and evidence base of health risks; accelerating domestication and implementation of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (Basel Convention), the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) (Stockholm Convention), and the Bamako Convention on the Ban of the Import into Africa and the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes within Africa (Bamako Convention); and including issues relating to e-waste in national legislation.

On climate change, the report recommends: integrating climate-related scientific findings into decision making; building adaptive capacity; and strengthening early warning systems, preparedness and response.

On safe water and sanitation, the Outlook calls for: improving infrastructure; reducing pollution of available water sources; and addressing poor hygiene.

On sustainable land management, the report recommends: assessing the suitability of land-use changes; regulating large-scale land acquisition; and promoting technologies that enhance land productivity and more-efficient water use. [UNEP Press Release] [Publication: Africa Environment Outlook 3: Our Environment, Our Health] [UN Press Release]