Photo: Unsplash
22 Sep 2022 Speech Chemicals & pollution action

Taking antimicrobial resistance seriously

Photo: Unsplash
Speech delivered by: Inger Andersen
Event: Political Leadership and Action on Antimicrobial Resistance: The Road to the 2024 UNGA High-level Meeting on AMR
Location: New York

H.E. Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados and Co-Chair of the GLG

H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh and Co-Chair of the GLG

H.E. Philip Davis, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas

Dr Christopher Fearne, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health, Malta and Member of the GLG

H.E. Flemming Møller Mortensen, Minister for Development Cooperation and Minister for Nordic

Cooperation of Denmark

H.E. Victoria Grace Ford, Minister for Development of the United Kingdom

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization


The very existence of this Global Leaders Group shows that the world is taking note of, and acting on, the threat that Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) poses.

Over a million people die each year as a direct result of AMR. Healthcare and productivity costs are in the billions each year. The threats are growing. We must dramatically step up action, lest we find ourselves scrabbling to deal with an even bigger crisis.

The global response to AMR depends on collaboration between sectors. So, political engagement is essential in countries, including national budget allocations and scaling up technical capacity to accelerate the One Health response.

Besides the implementation of National Action Plans, we must mainstream AMR into the policies, strategies and plans of all sectors and institutions that influence the issue. We must provide strong regulatory frameworks and enabling environments to incentivize good practices that reduce AMR discharges. And we must increase private sector investment and public-private partnerships.

UNEP is developing a report on the environmental dimensions of antimicrobial resistance, to be launched at the 3rd Ministerial Conference on AMR in November. This report will offer a menu of preventive and mitigation actions, for example, developing international standards for effluent discharge. These actions would then need to be translated into national legal and regulatory frameworks.

Crucially, we must realize that AMR cannot be addressed separately from the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste – all of which are driven by unsustainable consumption and production patterns. This is why a One Health approach is so important. It can tackle multiple threats at the same time.

These are all the details. The most important enabling factor is coordinated action at global, regional and national level. This action starts with you, political leaders. COVID-19 showed that we weren’t ready for a global pandemic, even though science told us zoonoses were a growing threat. Let’s learn our lesson, heed the science on AMR and do something now, before the problem becomes too big for us to handle.

Thank you.