11. SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES

‘Act together’ for clean air, Guterres urges

‘Act together’ for clean air, Guterres urges
Written by ZJbTFBGJ2T

‘Act together’ for clean air, Guterres urges  UN News

‘Act together’ for clean air, Guterres urges

Air Pollution and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Airborne contaminants pose a significant risk to environmental health. According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), 99 per cent of the world’s population breathes polluted air, with low and middle-income countries experiencing even higher levels of exposure.

The pervasive nature of air pollution necessitates global collaboration. This year’s theme, Together for Clean Air, emphasizes the urgent need for stronger international partnerships, increased investment, and collective responsibility to reduce air pollution. Mr. Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, stated, “Global problems require global solutions. We must act together for clean air.”

Air Pollution

Air pollution is defined as any chemical, physical, or biological contaminant that alters the natural characteristics of the atmosphere. The most common sources of air pollution include household cookers and other combustion devices, cars, industrial facilities, and forest fires. Air pollution exists both outdoors and indoors, and both have severe impacts on human health. Dangerous pollutants include carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide. Additionally, air pollution includes PM2.5, inhalable particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter.

Health Impacts

Exposure to air pollution significantly increases the risk of strokes, heart and lung disease, cancer, and other ailments. This leads to over 6.7 million premature deaths annually, according to WHO. Air pollution also negatively affects plants, reduces crop yields, and impacts food security. It exacerbates social and gender inequality, and hinders economic development, limiting countries’ ability to achieve their development goals.

Martina Otto, head of the secretariat of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)-convened Climate and Clean Air Coalition, stated, “Exposure at any level can have health implications that impair quality of life and come with costs for the individual, our societies, and our economies. Air pollution impacts all age groups, but those with higher vulnerability suffer the most.” Ms. Otto added, “Reducing air pollution is key to improving human health and tackling the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste. It also helps us achieve several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Smart Choices

Solutions to improve air quality vary based on local contexts and sectors. At the individual level, people can initiate change by making decisions that promote clean air, such as making environmentally friendly purchases and using cleaner methods of transportation and cooking. Businesses and corporations can incorporate air quality into their corporate social responsibility considerations, monitor and publicly report pollution emissions, and promote programs that reduce emissions.

Shift towards Clean Energy

Governments should establish and enforce air pollution standards to achieve the milestones outlined in the 2021 World Health Organization guidelines. They should also enhance their capacity to monitor air quality. Mr. Guterres emphasized the need to accelerate a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels, particularly coal, towards clean renewable energy, while ensuring that no one is left behind. He stated, “Our air is a common good and a common responsibility. Let’s work together to clean it up, protect our health, and leave a healthy planet for generations to come.”

The International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies

The International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, observed annually on 7 September, was established in 2019 by the UN General Assembly. It recognizes the importance of clean air and the impact of air pollution on human health and ecosystems, particularly its disproportionate effect on women, children, and older persons.

SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being Target 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination. Indicator: Number of premature deaths attributed to air pollution.
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy Target 7.1: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services. Indicator: Proportion of population with access to clean cooking fuels and technologies.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities Target 11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management. Indicator: Proportion of urban population living in areas where air pollution levels exceed the World Health Organization guidelines.
SDG 13: Climate Action Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning. Indicator: Number of countries that have integrated measures to reduce air pollution into their national policies.
SDG 15: Life on Land Target 15.1: By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services. Indicator: Proportion of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems affected by air pollution.

1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being

The article discusses the health impacts of air pollution, including increased risk of strokes, heart and lung disease, cancer, and other ailments. This aligns with SDG 3, which aims to ensure good health and well-being for all.

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

The article emphasizes the need to transition away from fossil fuels towards clean renewable energy to reduce air pollution. This relates to SDG 7, which focuses on ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

The article highlights the importance of addressing air quality in cities and reducing the adverse environmental impact of urban areas. This connects to SDG 11, which aims to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

SDG 13: Climate Action

The article mentions the need to integrate measures to reduce air pollution into national policies, which aligns with SDG 13’s goal of taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

SDG 15: Life on Land

The article mentions the impact of air pollution on terrestrial ecosystems and their services. This relates to SDG 15, which focuses on protecting, restoring, and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.

2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?

– Target 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.

– Target 7.1: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services.

– Target 11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.

– Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning.

– Target 15.1: By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services.

3. Are there any indicators mentioned or implied in the article that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets?

– Indicator: Number of premature deaths attributed to air pollution (Target 3.9).

– Indicator: Proportion of population with access to clean cooking fuels and technologies (Target 7.1).

– Indicator: Proportion of urban population living in areas where air pollution levels exceed the World Health Organization guidelines (Target 11.6).

– Indicator: Number of countries that have integrated measures to reduce air pollution into their national policies (Target 13.2).

– Indicator: Proportion of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems affected by air pollution (Target 15.1).

The article mentions the number of premature deaths caused by air pollution, the need for access to clean cooking fuels and technologies, the impact of air pollution on urban populations, the integration of measures to reduce air pollution into national policies, and the effect of air pollution on terrestrial ecosystems. These indicators can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets.

4. SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

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Source: news.un.org

 

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SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being Target 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination. Indicator: Number of premature deaths attributed to air pollution.
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy Target 7.1: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services. Indicator: Proportion of population with access to clean cooking fuels and technologies.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities Target 11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management. Indicator: Proportion of urban population living in areas where air pollution levels exceed the World Health Organization guidelines.
SDG 13: Climate Action Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning.