The world today marked the second International Day of Clean Air for blue skies under the theme Healthy Air, Healthy Planet, which highlights the link between air quality and planetary and human health.
Nine out of ten people on earth breathe polluted air, which causes an estimated seven million premature deaths a year.
In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly designated 7 September as the international Day of Clean Air for blue skies The Day – whose observance is facilitated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) – stresses the importance of clean air and the urgent need for efforts to improve air quality to protect human health.
In his message on the Day, UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said:
“Like many societal ills, air pollution reflects global inequalities. Poverty forces people to live close to sources of pollution, like factories and highways, and burn solid fuels or kerosene for cooking, heating, and lighting. The pollution that is damaging our health is also driving the climate crisis. I call on all countries to do more to improve air quality, invest in renewable energy instead of fossil fuels, phase out coal, and transition to zero emission vehicles.”
Speaking at the official event in Nairobi, UNEP’s Chief Scientist, Andrea Hinwood said:
“Improving air quality won’t just help improve our health. It will help us save the planet. We all breathe the same air, and we all have a role to play in protecting it. The world is coming together, but we need to translate commitments into policies and actions. For human and planetary health for generations to come, 2021 will be a pivotal year.”
The International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, first marked in 2020, calls for increased international cooperation at the global, regional and sub-regional levels. It provides a platform for strengthening global solidarity as well as political momentum for action against air pollution and climate change, including actions like the increased collection of air quality data, carrying out joint research, developing new technologies and sharing best practices.