By Sharon Atieno

The first International Day of Clean Air for blue skies will be marked on 7 September 2020. This follows a December 2019 United Nations General Assembly resolution recognizing the need for increased awareness and international cooperation to reduce air pollution.

With 9 out of 10 people around the world breathing air that does not meet World Health Organization guidelines for clean air, the international Day aims to increase international cooperation at the global, regional and sub-regional levels.

It provides a platform for strengthening global solidarity as well as to raise ambitions and political momentum for action against air pollution and climate change, including actions like the increased collection of air quality data, carrying out joint research, developing new technologies and sharing best practices. It also aims to raise awareness of the many solutions available to beat air pollution and their multiple benefits.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is responsible for facilitating observance of this Day whose theme will be clean air for all.

Air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths annually from diseases like stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and acute respiratory infections. It is responsible for a substantial amount of disability for those living with these diseases. Many air pollutants are also powerful climate forcers, harming the health and well-being of those living today and making the world less safe for future generations.

The Republic of Korea led global efforts to create this new International Day of Clean Air for blue skies and will host an event to start celebrations around the world on 7 September.