Hundreds of thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean region are the result of preventable environmental factors, according to a report released by the UN.
The United Nations Environment Program study concludes that more than 226,000 people died prematurely in 2016 from exposure to air pollution, in a region that is also experiencing increasing inequalities, loss of biodiversity, climate change and relentless pressure on natural resources.
This week, the State of Global Air 2020 report raised concerns about the number of deaths, especially among infants, from exposure to increasing air pollution. He noted that the problem was particularly acute for developing countries in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
But the UNEP study highlights the fact that environmental health risks, as well as the threat of irreversible damage to the natural landscape itself, also pose a major threat to the richer Mediterranean region.
âUnless urgent and resolute action is taken to halt current trends, environmental degradation could have serious and lasting consequences for human health and livelihoods across the region,â the report said.
The Mediterranean has long faced the problem of plastic waste at sea and, like the rest of the world, is warming at an alarming rate. The UN report found that environmental degradation due to increased tourism “threatens biodiversity as well as the more than 1,000 non-native species that live underwater.”
âBy highlighting the mistakes of the past, the report’s findings can guide a green renaissance in the Mediterranean,â said Gaetano Leone, Coordinator of the UNEP / MAP-Barcelona Convention Secretariat.
He added: “Committing to greener development paths now can stop trends of environmental degradation and save hard-won achievements in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The report notes that due to the Mediterranean’s status as one of the ‘world’s most coveted tourist destinations’, every day a total of 730 tonnes of plastic waste is found, adding to the existing pollution in the area. region. To address these growing concerns, say the authors of the report, Mediterranean countries must prioritize the implementation of measures to prevent degradation.