Africa receives just 1% of global philanthropic air quality funding

A new report from Clean Air Fund’s latest report reveals the extent to which philanthropic funding is used to promote healthy air quality around the world. 

Titled, Philanthropic Foundation Funding for Clean Air: Advancing climate action, health and social justice, the report reveals that between 2015 and 2022, $330m of philanthropic funding was made available to clean air causes, with $71.3m of that coming in 2022 – a small increase on the previous year.

aerial view of city buildings during daytime

Last September we looked at Clean Air Fund’s The State of Global Air Quality Funding report, which focussed on international air quality funding from governments. This new report looks exclusively at air quality funding from philanthropic foundations.

‘Philanthropic foundation funding’ refers to non-profit or charitable organisations that provide grants across a range of fields, including air quality. These philanthropic foundations may be funded by individuals, families, businesses or through public donations.

The report found that despite there being over 8 million annual deaths that can be attributed to poor air quality, the $330m figure represents just 0.1% of total philanthropic funding worldwide.

Furthermore, during the seven year period covered by the report, only $1.9m was made available to Africa, despite it being home to half of the world’s most polluted countries. Latin America fared little better, receiving just $5.9m.

In terms of where funding was spent, communications and raising awareness was the most popular choice, receiving 26.3% of the total. The collection of air quality data received only 12% despite the fact that – as the report points out – data underpins all action on clean air and only half of the world’s governments publicly share air quality data.

The report suggests that funders should unlock the benefits of climate, health and social justice simultaneously by increasing their support for clean air programmes. Recommendations include incorporating clean air funding into existing grantmaking, expanding grantmaking through pooled funds, re-granters and partnerships and targetting underfunded countries, cities and regions

Jane Burston, CEO, Clean Air Fund, said: ‘Funding for air quality from foundations has increased but remains a miniscule proportion of total philanthropic funding. Air pollution is one of the most pressing challenges of our time, with 99% of the world still breathing toxic air. I urge funders to recognise that air quality isn’t a niche issue and work together to tackle the problem. By doing so, we can act on climate change, improve our health, strengthen economic outputs, and address social inequality all at the same time.’



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