Regions commit to meeting WHO air quality standards

Ten regional governments from across the world have today (13 November) signed up to the UN Environment and World Health Organisation’s Breathe Life campaign, committing to major improvements in air quality.

The campaign contains a core pledge to meet the 10 μg/m3 WHO limit for the emission of fine particles by 2030, as well as enacting policies that will boost sustainable transport.

Cities including (clockwise): Barcelona, Spain; Cuenca, Ecuador; Milan, Italy, and; Milan, Italy are now signatories to the Breathe Life campaign

Leaders from 10 regional governments from across the globe, including Catalonia and the Basque Country in Spain, Lombardy in Italy, Gossas in Senegal, Jalisco and Campeche in Mexico, Plateau in Benin, Valle de Aburra and Chaco in Argentina and Azuay in Ecuador have signed up to the commitment at the COP23 Sustainable Innovation Forum in Bonn, Germany today.

They follow in the footsteps of major cities and regional governments including London, which signed up to the commitment last month (see story), the 10 Greater Manchester authorities, Washington DC, and Santiago to have signed the pledge.

Other commitments central to the campaign include the development of sustainable mobility and transportation policies, regulation and improvement in the disposal and management of solid waste; and incentives for the development of sustainable energy solutions.

According to UN Environment, due to the strategic position of regional governments between the national and local levels, they are ”uniquely suited” for the implementation of policies on the ground to tackle air pollution.


Speaking today, Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, said: “By tackling the root causes of air pollution, cities and regions are delivering a better quality of life for their citizens and concrete action on climate change. This shows that positive environmental action is not a burden, but rather an exciting opportunity. Cleaner cities will be happier, healthier and more productive.”

Commenting on the commitment, Marta Subirà, secretary for environment and sustainability for Catalonia, Spain said: ”The air quality around Barcelona is a chronic problem which has become one of our main concerns in the latest years. It is an urgent issue that affects the health of all citizens.

“This is why we have taken powerful and coordinated action through the Agreement for Improving Air Quality, which brings together other public administrations to transform the quality of life of the people in Catalonia.”


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