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September 2021 put international cooperation at the center of the fight against air pollution. Following the second international day « Clean air for blue skies »[1], the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its Global Air Quality Guidelines.

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The 2nd “Clean air for blue skies” day brought the update of the guidelines written by the WHO. Originally wrote in 1987 and updated in 2005 these guidelines were reviewed and adopted on September 22nd of 2021. The use of guidelines to help low-and middle-income countries to fight air pollution is a good example of the fact that international cooperation can really help finding solutions to major international issues.

Speaking of major issues air pollution is the real deal. It is not less than the world’s leading environmental risk to health. The WHO estimates that air pollution kills 7 million people every year whether directly or by aggravating severe diseases. The fact that 95% of these deaths happen in low- and middle-income countries[2] ringed the alarm for the creation of guidelines and cooperation.

Therefore, the spotlight needs to be put on cooperation through the scope of the guidelines written by the WHO to help countries fight against air pollution.

On the other hand, some non-governmental organizations have launched their cooperation program. For example, the Cleaner Air Group in cooperation with the USA’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a new “Online Megacities Platform”[3] that provides templates to help other countries to start the process of fighting air pollution.

These templates bring guidelines to the table but moreover partnership propositions to build relationships and reach a broad and inclusive approach. The program already helped cities in Ghana, Peru, or Chile.

But air pollution isn’t only a third world issue. In fact, 90% of the world population currently lives in areas where air pollution exceeds the WHO recommended level of PM2.5[4]. One of the main aspects of air pollution is that it ignores boundaries. The simple fact that it concerns air means that it is something very volatile and that concerns every human being. “Address air pollution across boundaries is one of the key points of the World Bank strategy”[5] writes Karin Kemper Global Director, Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy Global Practice, at the World Bank.

Air pollution also has implications in wealthy countries that are trying economic recovery that’s why, according to Karin Kemper, it needs a broad and inclusive approach.






A propos de Antoine REBESCO