Addressing the Knowledge Gap

Science for evidence-based policy and action
Decision makers are often faced with a lack of pollution data, and an overall low national capacity for anayzing data and assessing pollution’s social and environmental costs.

  • Data Collection and sharing
  • Global, regional and thematic assessments
  • Shared environmental information systems and open data policy
  • Economics of pollution and health
  • Benefits of action on pollution


Use geospatial information
Some forms of pollution are highly localized, whereas others are diffuse and transboundary. Geographic information systems can help countries map pollution hotspots and allow them to prioritize their actions. One initiative under way looks at creating open-source maps using geospatial information on pollution and dynamics of dispersion, combined with population density, exposure and risk, protected areas and other bio-physical or socioeconomic datasets.

Assess the socioeconomic cost of pollution
Pollution has significant economic costs due to its impact on human health, human capital, productivity, healthcare costs and ecosystems, but the nexus between environment and health is often poorly understood. UNEP is currently working on a report on the costs of pollution to human capital and implications for poverty reduction, to help decision makers better calculate the economic benefits of action—and the costs of inaction.

Better pollution governance through improved analysis of pollution-related information
The capacity to collect and analyse high-quality, timely, comparable information on pollution—such as regulatory and policy information, and pollution levels—is crucial for countries to improve pollution governance. When national systems for collecting and using data to produce statistics exist, countries can then conduct pollution assessments, create geospatial maps and evaluate the economics of pollution. To build the statistical capacity needed to collect and analyse this data, UNEP is supporting the development of methodologies for assessing water and air quality, waste management, presence of hazardous waste and marine pollution. It is also building the capacity of national environmental agencies to compile and use pollution-related statistics.