The World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Climate and Clean Air (CCAC) and the Government of Norway launched a campaign to tackle the climate and health impacts of air pollution and halve the number of deaths from air pollution by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The 'BreatheLife: Clean air, A healthy future’ campaign aims to mobilize cities and their inhabitants to protect themselves and the planet from air pollution, particularly black carbon, ground-level ozone and methane.
20 October 2016: The World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Climate and Clean Air (CCAC) and the Government of Norway launched an awareness campaign on the dangers of air pollution for the health of people and the planet. The campaign aims to tackle the climate and health impacts of air pollution and halve the number of deaths from air pollution by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
SDG 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) includes target 3.9: “by 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination.”
In Africa, more people die from air pollution than from malnutrition or water pollution, according to UNRIC.
According to WHO, only one in ten people breathe clean air, and nearly seven million people die annually from air pollution, making up almost 12% of all deaths globally. The UN Regional Information Centre for Western Europe (UNRIC) points out that in Africa, more people die from air pollution than from malnutrition or water pollution. The UN further highlights the contribution of urbanization, industrialization, transport and chemical goods to air pollution, noting also that air pollution tends to be higher in lower-income urban areas, due to rapid development, limited environmental laws and high-pollution vehicles. It underscores the importance of reducing pollution for lower income and more vulnerable groups, especially children, elderly people and women.
The ‘BreatheLife: Clean air, A healthy future’ campaign aims to mobilize cities and their inhabitants to protect themselves and the planet from air pollution, particularly black carbon, ground-level ozone and methane. The campaign proposes practical policies for individuals and communities to achieve cleaner air, ranging from choosing to walk or cycle to developing green spaces and incinerating waste. For cities, the campaign suggests measures to improve air quality through better housing, energy and waste management and transport infrastructure. Other suggestions include prioritizing clean public transport, improving vehicle standards and adopting more efficient cooking, lighting and heating options.
The campaign’s website features information on: the health and climate impacts of air pollution; solutions at the city and individual levels and for leaders in the health sector; and resources for cities and organizations, for individuals and for health professionals. It also provides a platform for cities to showcase best practices for tackling air pollution as well as to demonstrate progress in meeting air quality targets.
The WHO, CCAC and Government of Norway launched the campaign at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), which adopted the New Urban Agenda. Speaking at the event, Tone Skogen, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway, said, “by addressing air pollution, we not only reduce these deaths, but we improve people’s health and we address climate change.” She highlighted the existence of known technologies to solve air pollution, stressing that “action will have immediate effect.” Chile’s Vice Minister for Environment and CCAC Co-Chair, Marcelo Mena, urged cities to monitor their air pollution and to take “fast practical action to improve air quality.” Mena called for joint action to tackle air pollution and climate change mitigation, including through reducing emissions by improving transport and reducing black carbon from burning coal and wood. [UN Press Release] [CCAC Press Release] [UNRIC Press Release] [BreatheLife Website]