Global Linkages

Pollution prevention

Pollution takes many forms, including chemical substances, sewage, wastewater and run-off, litter and different types of energy (light, heat and noise). UN Environment (2017) identifies seven main sources of pollution: food production and harvest, energy production, industry, manufacturing, the service sector, transport and improper management of waste. While the biggest impact of pollution on people and environments is often near their source, other pollutants are transported over long distances by air, rivers and ocean currents. The geographical characteristics and the cold climate of the Arctic mean that the region functions as a sink for contaminants from around the globe and that many pollutants remain in the Arctic for long periods (AMAP, 2009). These pollutants are present in the air, water, snow, ice, soil and living organisms. Some can even accumulate throughout the food chain, posing a serious threat to the health of humans and animals. The issue of pollution is complex. The harmful effects of many pollutants and their breakdown products and the impacts of multiple stressors on local communities and human and environmental health are widely recognized (AMAP, 2015d;

AMAP, 2017b; AMAP, 2018b). Climate change may also affect the release of certain pollutants: more frequent forest fires, for example, will increase air pollution. In addition, climate change may modify the current routes by which pollution is transported to the Arctic, which could alter the degree of human exposure to contaminants (AMAP, 2015d). Pollution is not a newphenomenon and a number of international conventions (for example, the StockholmConventionon Persistent Organic Pollutants, the Minamata Convention onMercury, and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer) andnational laws havebeennegotiatedandestablished toaddress the chemicals known to be most harmful to the environment. This includes the ongoing repair of the ozone layer and the phasing out of numerous banned pesticides and chemicals (UN Environment, 2017). This effort is strengthened by a number of the SDGs: target 3.9 aims to substantially reduce the adverse impact on human health from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution; target 6.3 aims to improve water quality by reducing pollution and the release of hazardous chemicals and materials; and target 14.1 works towards significantly reducing and preventing all kinds of marine pollution (United Nations, 2015b).


Global Linkages

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