UNEP study on reducing pollution and health impacts through fiscal policies – A selection of good practices

Pollution is one of the major challenges of our time, affecting human health and the environment. Pollution also has economic costs linked to effects on labour productivity, health expenditure, crop yield losses and ecosystem damage, among others. These issues are central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and are reflected in several SDGs. There is no one-size-fits-all type of solution as prevalent pollutants and sources vary both between and within countries. A toolkit of complementary policies is needed to address this complex challenge. Fiscal instruments are among the most cost-effective and efficient tools available to reduce pollution. When carefully designed, fiscal instruments can play an important role in the policy toolbox needed to prevent and reduce pollution helping to accelerate progress towards a pollution free planet and support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

The study was undertaken in the context of a UNEP-led project on Environment, Health and Pollution which seeks to provide the needed understanding, capacities and tools to help countries and stakeholders take effective action to address pollution. As part of this project, a series of studies have been carried out which explore the effective use of fiscal policies for pollution reduction. These fiscal studies contribute to the Implementation Plan ‘Towards a pollution-free planet’ adopted at the Third UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-3) which identifies stimulating good practices through fiscal policy as an accelerator for implementation.