A clean world for kids
The ill-health of children constrains the social and economic development of countries. Children with chronic disease and long-term disability will not grow up to be healthy and productive people. People are countries’ greatest resource, essential for achieving sustainable development.
Currently, the economic burden of environment-related disease is enormous.
Africa’s gross domestic product would probably be about US$ 100 billion higher if malaria had been tackled successfully 30 years ago.
In the late 1990’s, according to one source, China lost up to a staggering 7.7% of its potential economic output because of ill-health caused by pollution. Two conditions linked to air pollution – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lower respiratory tract infections – accounted for 1.9 million annual deaths for all ages – over 21% of all deaths in China.
There is evidence that exposure to toxic substances may cost developed countries more than US$ 300 billion per year. In the USA alone, the annual costs of certain childhood environmental diseases are estimated to be US$ 55 billion.
But when environmental risks are reduced, the financial gains are considerable. Research suggests that Mexico City would benefit by perhaps as much as US$ 2 billion a year if officials reduced the particulate matter in the air by just 10%.
In the USA, children are already benefiting from past policies on lead-free gasoline that have reduced their exposure to lead. According to one report, for each year’s cohort of children, the economic benefits are estimated to be between US$ 110 and US$ 319 billion.