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International Day of Clean Air for blue skies

International Day of Clean Air for blue skies

UN Member States recognize the need to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination by 2030, as well as to reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management by 2030.

Encouraged by the increasing interest of the international community in clean air, and emphasizing the need to make further efforts to improve air quality, including reducing air pollution, to protect human health, the General Assembly decided  on 19 December 2019 to designate 7 September as the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies.

Theme for 2023 - Together for Clean Air

This year’s theme of “Together for Clean Air” focuses on the need for stronger partnerships, increased investment and shared responsibility to overcome air pollution. Given the transboundary nature of air pollution, all stakeholders have a responsibility to protect the earth’s atmosphere and ensure healthy air for everyone. Working together, across borders and boundaries, between sectors and beyond silos, will help reduce air pollution, leverage finance and investments towards air quality measures and solutions, and provide many benefits. This International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, we call upon everyone, from governments and corporations to civil society and individuals to come together to overcome air pollution. 

A two-fold problem

Health impact: tiny, invisible particles of pollution penetrate deep into our lungs, bloodstream and bodies. These pollutants are responsible for about one-third of deaths from stroke, chronic respiratory disease, and lung cancer, as well as one quarter of deaths from heart attack. Ground-level ozone, produced from the interaction of many different pollutants in sunlight, is also a cause of asthma and chronic respiratory illnesses.

Climate impact: short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) are among those pollutants most linked with both health effects and near-term warming of the planet. They persist in the atmosphere for as little as a few days or up to a few decades, so reducing them can have an almost immediate health and climate benefits for those living in places where levels fall.

Preventing and reducing air pollution to improve air quality globally

Air pollution is the greatest environmental threat to health, causing approximately 7 million premature deaths each year from diseases like stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections. Many sources of air pollution also drive the climate crisis and damage nature and ecosystems. Air pollution adversely affects food security, social and gender parity, and economic development, keeping people entrenched in the cycle of poverty. Particularly in developing countries, air pollution disproportionately affects women, children and the elderly, especially in low-income populations as they are often exposed to high levels of ambient air pollution and indoor air pollution from cooking and heating with wood fuel and kerosene.

Аir pollution is a global problem with far-reaching impacts owing to its transport over long distances. In the absence of aggressive intervention, the number of premature deaths resulting from ambient air pollution is estimated to be on track to increase by more than 50 per cent by 2050.

Society bears a high cost of air pollution due to the negative impacts on the economy, work productivity, healthcare costs and tourism, among others. Hence, the economic benefits of investing in air pollution control cannot be overestimated, and it must be understood that there is also an economic rationale to act and that cost-effective solutions exist to address air pollution.

Poor air quality is a challenge in the context of sustainable development for all countries, in particular in cities and urban areas in developing countries, with levels of air pollution that are higher than the limits set out in the World Health Organization air quality guidelines

Some air pollutants, such as black carbon, methane and ground-level ozone, are also short-lived climate pollutants and are responsible for a significant portion of air pollution-related deaths, as well as impacts on crops and hence food security, so their reduction has co-benefits for the climate.

Source : UN

Related resources

  1. About Clean Air for Blue Skies
  2. Explore air quality anywhere in the world
  3. Explore a household and find out how you can Clear The Air

Last Modified : 9/7/2023



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