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It is estimated that pollution, exposure to chemicals, and unhealthy living and working environments are responsible for 12.6 million premature deaths annually (WHO, 2016). In contrast, healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more, thereby contributing to securing livelihoods and enhancing human well-being.

Green growth policies that improve air, water and soil quality as well as limit exposure to chemicals can reduce the societal burden of disease while increasing productivity and contributing to economic growth. Moreover, the transition to a green economy can result in healthier populations as a result of better environmental conditions. For instance, many climate change strategies are expected to have large, immediate health impacts such as improved physical health through the promotion of walking and biking, while strategies to promote green cities and green transport can result in a number of co-benefits such as reduced ambient air pollution.

Relevance to the SDGs

Health is central to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 which aim to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all. SDG 6.3 touches on the health impacts of water quality and access and SDG 11.6 is focused on reducing the adverse environmental impact of cities on air quality and waste generation.


SDG 3.9
Healthy Environment
    SDG 6.3
Improved Water Quality
    SDG 11.6
Impact of Cities


United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)
United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)
Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR)

Case Studies

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), GREEN-WIN
SEED, United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
International Center for Climate Governance (ICCG)

Learning Products


Let There Be Light International
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH