John Libbey Eurotext

Environnement, Risques & Santé


The role of scholars regarding public policy: recommendations of the Lancet Commission on pollution and health Volume 17, issue 3, May-June 2018

Société française de santé et environnement (SFSE)
Université Paris Diderot
Bâtiment Buffon – Case courrier 7073
4, rue Marie Andrée Lagroua Weill Hallé
75205 Paris cedex 13
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  • Key words: pollution, health, public policies, sustainable development, United Nations, liberal ideology, globalized economy, fight against pollution, surveillance of the pollutions
  • DOI : 10.1684/ers.2018.1173
  • Page(s) : 300-6
  • Published in: 2018

The 2017 report of the Lancet Commission on pollution and health aimed “to raise global awareness of pollution, end neglect of pollution-related diseases, and mobilise the resources and the political will to effectively confront pollution.” This manifesto nurtures a harmful confusion between scholarly research public policy. It suffers first from a conflict of interest due to its relation with the World Bank, its indirect funder, whose recommendations in this area the Commission faithfully repeats. The experts of the commission were recruited for their too homogeneous opinions: all obviously adhere to the United Nations’ sustainable development objectives and to the dominant liberal political ideology. This has led them to issue public policy recommendations that mix together constraining professional positions with an angelic confidence in the spirit of social responsibility of private economic players and faith in the virtues of civil society participation. More serious, the numeric advantage of OECD representatives in the expert group resulted in two debatable judgments: (i) that the industrial development of poor countries can occur without pollution in the framework of a globalized capitalist economy, and (ii) that it is possible to simply replicate in developing countries the strategies to combat pollution that worked in rich countries. Fortunately, some of the Commission's recommendations, relating to their scientific expertise, are indisputable and, moreover, they call for public financing.