A United Nations (UN) report produced by 250 scientists from 70 countries has alerted of an impending crisis from polluted freshwater systems which will see anti-microbial resistance become the number one cause of death by 2050.
The report was released on Wednesday during the UN Environment Assembly, the world’s highest-level environmental forum.
The report – sixth edition of “Global Environment Outlook” warned that if environment protections were not scaled up drastically, cities in Asia, the Middle East and Africa could see millions of premature deaths by 2050.
Moreover, freshwater pollution that has endocrine disruptors (chemicals that interfere with hormone system) will impact male and female fertility, and child neurodevelopment, the report said.
Drawing a link between the state of the environment and human health, the report warned that the damage is so dire that people’s health will be increasingly threatened unless urgent action is taken.
“At present, the world is not on track to meet the Social Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 or 2050. Urgent action is required now as any delay in climate action increases the cost of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, or reversing progress and at some point, will make them impossible,” it added.
“The health and prosperity of humanity is directly tied with the state of the environment. We need to look at three systems – food, energy and waste and how we can transform them into healthy fortunes. This report is an outlook for humanity. We are at a crossroads. Do we continue on our current path, which will lead to a bleak future for humankind, or do we pivot to a more sustainable development pathway? That is the choice our political leaders must make, now,” UN Environment acting executive director, Joyce Msuya said