The Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP) was formed in 2012 by Pure Earth, the World Bank, UNEP, UNDP, UNIDO, Asian Development Bank, the European Commission, Ministries of Environment and Health of many low- and middle-income countries to address pollution and health at scale.
GAHP envisions a world where the health of present and future generations, especially children and pregnant women, is safe from toxic pollution. GAHP is a collaborative body, made up of more than 50 members and dozens of observers (see www.gahp.net) that advocates on behalf of its low- and middle-income country members for resources and solutions to pollution problems. As an advocacy and collaboration network, GAHP seeks to build demand for pollution prevention and mitigation programs that are implemented by its members. GAHP builds public, political, technical and financial support to address pollution globally, tracks pollution impact and interventions, promotes scientific research on pollution and raises awareness on the scope and impacts of all types of pollution. GAHP also directly assists low- and middle-income countries to prioritize and address pollution through health and pollution action planning (HPAP) and other development planning processes, in collaboration with its members.
1. How is GAHP different from all the other initiatives and existing alliances that are out there?
Currently, GAHP is the only organization operating in this space, addressing the impact of all types of pollution on health, and advocating on behalf of the 9 million lives lost each year because of pollution.
Other organizations deal with one or two types of pollution but not comprehensively with all forms of pollution. For example the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) focuses on chemicals and waste issues but not on air pollution. Likewise, air pollution efforts, such as the Global Alliance on Climate and Health or the Climate and Clean Air Coalition do not focus on soil or water pollution.
Furthermore, unlike GAHP, other organizations, are not focused on health as a priority for combating pollution.
2. Why do we need GAHP?
GAHP is the only organization whose core focus is to bring attention and resources to pollution and health issues, especially in low- and middle-income countries. GAHP assists developing country governments to prioritize and address their pollution and health problems. GAHP is at the forefront of generating arguments (and the data and science behind them) that resonate with decision makers for investing in solutions to pollution and health problems.
GAHP is also the only organization advocating for this issue to be elevated on the international aid agenda. GAHP convenes interested stakeholders from the donor community, affected countries, academia, civil society, the UN and private sector to strategize and coordinate solutions at the country and global level.
Last but not least, GAHP has an extremely useful metric for prioritizing and monitoring action that can be valuable to all – health. Although targeted in the SDGs (in Health Goal’s Target 3.9), pollution-attributed disease is not included as an indicator. However, it is included in the Global Burden of Disease reports, and can be used to measure progress.
3. Why incorporate now?
In just six years, GAHP has proven it is an effective advocate, thought leader, and agent of change. GAHP ensured all types of pollution were included in Health Goal of the Sustainable Development Goals (as Target 3.9), and spearheaded the groundbreaking Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health (2017).
In order to be sustainable, GAHP must legally separate from its founder and host Pure Earth. Legal incorporation is also critical to maintaining transparency, and to ensuring its members have a real stake in its operations and activities.