All nations must join forces to fight air pollution, which causes

It is the International Day of Clean Air to ensure blue skies Every year, on the 7th of September, is designed to increase awareness and encourage worldwide action to tackle pollution from the air that United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently declared an “global emergency.”

Airborne contaminants pose the greatest risk to health from the environment that we face today, and 99 percent of the population of the world is breathing dangerous air. Exposure to air pollution dramatically increases the likelihood of having strokes, heart, and lung diseases, as well as cancer and other illnesses, which result in over 6.7 million premature deaths every year.

On the 4th annual Clean Air Day, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) met to talk with Martina Otto, the secretary-general of the UNEP-organized Climate and Clean Air Coalition to learn how the world can mitigate the negative effects of air pollution.

What is the significance of this International Day for Clean Air for blue skies so important?

Martina Otto (MO): Almost everyone breathes polluted air. However, we’re far from all being exposed to the same pollution. The different levels of air pollution are often correlated with other disparities. The exposure at any level could cause health issues that can affect quality of life. It also comes with costs for individuals as well as our communities and economies.

As the reduction in air pollution is essential to improving health for humans and well-being, it is also essential to solving the triple planetary problem of climate change, loss of biodiversity and the natural environment, as well as waste and pollution and aiding us in achieving a number of Sustainable Development Goals.

Clean Air Day raises awareness about the negative effects of air pollution. The event brings together businesses, researchers, government officials, and people to tackle these issues.

The significance behind this year’s theme, Together For Clean Air?

MO There are solutions available to the issue of air pollution; however, to bring them to a large scale, we need to join forces, and work across silos across sectors and across different levels of authority. While air pollution is a major issue for the regions that are near to its source however, it can also move through thousands of kilometers within the air.

We are not able to influence the direction of the wind, but we can collaborate to find solutions upstream to problems in regulatory and enforcers. Investments, for instance, can transform agricultural residues into energy or valuable resources which can reduce open burning. Since air pollution is a transboundary issue, combating pollution of the air in a meaningful way requires looking for transboundary solutions, creating cooperation between cities as well as their surroundings, and creating regional agreements as well as global platforms that facilitate the sharing of experiences across regions.

This is the reason the theme for this year is centered around the necessity for stronger collaboration, more investments and shared accountability. It is imperative to take action at every level from all parties in all sectors.

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