Commitments Made At First WHO Conference On Air Pollution A “Critical Step”

Member states of the World Health Organization last week gathered for the first-ever Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, and made a set of commitments in the time frame of the year 2030. The United Nations secretary general hailed the commitments as a “critical step” toward his own summit planned for 2019.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Dr Tedros) in remarks at the close of the conference highlighted the number of deaths from air pollution and laid out members’ commitments from the meeting. These include sustainable energy sources for health facilities, establishing a multistakeholder action platform, educating and empowering health workers to bring change, scaling up WHO’s air pollution programme, and looking into stronger institutional mechanisms such as possibly an air quality convention.

The WHO press release, UN secretary-general’s tweet, and other information are provided below.

WHO Press Release:

At the conclusion of the First WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health this week in Geneva, Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus  said “Our dream is a world free of air pollution. To get there, we need to set an aspirational goal to reduce the number of deaths from air pollution by two-thirds by 2030.” Said Dr Tedros, “We are eager to hear the views of countries and partners on this target, and we need to do more work together on the scientific foundation for it.”

Dr. Tedros expressed WHO commitments on five key points, including:

  • Working towards universal electrification of health facilities with sustainable energy by 2030 to support universal health care access.
  • Establish a new multi-stakeholder Global Energy-Health Platform of Action to achieve power of health workers to be agents of change.
  • Equipping health workers to be agents of change, equipping them with the capacity and tools to educate their patients and decision-makers about the health effects of air pollution, and to have their say in shaping mitigation policies.
  • Scaling up WHO’s own Air Pollution programme, globally, regionally and in countries, including through establishment of a Trust Fund with other partners on climate, environment and health, which could access climate and environment finance directly.
  • Strengthening institutional mechanisms, including exploration of an air quality convention.

“Clean energy in health facilities. Political leadership. Harnessing the power of health workers. Expanding our air pollution programme. Strong international mechanisms. These are the five strategies we will use to achieve a two-thirds reduction in global mortality from air pollution by 2030. “

Leaders from national and city governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, philanthropy, research and academia gathered at WHO’s headquarters this week to consider the scientific evidence on air pollution and health and the solutions to improve air quality.

The Clean Air for Health Action Agenda conference summary issued today emphasizes the urgent need for bold and prompt action to address this health crisis.

The WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health was organized in collaboration with UN Environment, World Meteorological Organization, Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC), UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the World Bank and the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Dr Tedros speech – opening address at High-Level Action Day 1 November
Dr Tedros speech – closing address 1 November
WHO air pollution playlist on YouTube
About the conference
Spotlight on air pollution

Africa Health and Environment Conference This Week

Meanwhile, the WHO is involved in another related conference taking place this week in Libreville, Gabon. The Third Inter-Ministerial Conference on Health and Environment is being held from 6-9 November.


Image Credits: WHO.

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