Chief scientists issue statement on International Day of Clean Air

Today is International Day of Clean Air, with a theme of ‘The Air We Share’ stressing global connections, the need for and power of collaboration. 

Chief scientists at the United National Environment Programme (UNEP), World Health Organisation (WHO),  International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have released a series of statements for this year’s International Day of Clean Air.

white clouds over the road

Collectively, they call for a continued expansion of co-operative projects to tackle transboundary air pollution, better global air quality monitoring, and more investment in science-based management of pollution. 

‘The greatest impacts of air pollution are often in areas near the source of emissions, but many air pollutants can travel or form in the atmosphere hundreds to thousands of kilometres from a source of emission, causing regional and continental impacts,’ the statement reads.

‘For example, soil mineral dust and sand, which makes up approximately 40% of total aerosols in the lower atmosphere, can remain in the atmosphere for as much as a week allowing it to be transported over continents and has a global impact on health, agriculture, transport, economy, and climate.

‘The good news is that, while complex and requiring a coordinated government response, air pollution is a preventable and manageable threat. While air pollution has not been solved in any region – with the problem exacerbated in urban and industrial areas of low and middle income countries, many cities and countries around the globe have shown remarkable decreases in emissions and pollutant concentrations where strong policies, regulations and monitoring systems have been put into place,’ it continues. 

The experts go on to emphasise that ‘air pollution knows no municipal or national borders’ and that ‘the air we breathe truly connects us all’, before pledging to contribute to more integrated and systems-based approaches to addressing air pollution at an international level. Knowledge sharing to bring all countries to the same level of understanding of the problem, root causes and viable solutions, is therefore paramount. 

Last year, research showed one-third of countries across the world had still not implemented legally-binding air quality standards. 

Image credit: Timothy Eberly


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