Air pollution is at a critical state. It continues to be the world’s single largest environment health risk and one of the main avoidable causes of death and disease globally. The burden of air pollution in the Asia and the Pacific region is among the highest in the world, with an estimated 4 million premature deaths attributed to exposure to air pollution. Air pollutants also contribute directly to the climate crisis, endangering generations' health, and livelihoods - current and future. Reducing air pollution is integral to achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Unfortunately, according to UNESCAP’s 2022 SDG Report for Asia and the Pacific, progress towards reducing urban air pollution since 2015 has been stagnant since 2015.
Air pollution knows no borders. Local air quality can be affected by human and natural activities outside their jurisdiction. No one is exempt from the impacts of air pollution, and as such, it is our collective responsibility to act now.
On November 26, 2019, the Second Committee of the 74th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted a resolution designating 7 September as the “International Day of Clean Air for blue skies.” The resolution stresses the importance of, and urgent need to, raise public awareness at all levels and to promote and facilitate actions to improve air quality. The Day’s observance is open to UN member states, UN organisations, international and regional organisations and civil society. The adopted resolution invites the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to facilitate the observance of the Day.
The first celebration was in 2020 and themed "Clean Air for All." This was followed by the second commemoration in 2021 under the theme “Healthy Air, Healthy Planet.” 7 September 2022 will mark the third year of this annual event, with the global theme of: "The Air We Share."
The objective of the session is to commemorate the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies in Asia and the Pacific region and raise awareness of the urgency of strengthening national action and regional collaboration to improve air quality.
Specifically, the event will aim to
- Facilitate sharing of good practices by highlighting national and local action / solutions for clean air
- Share perspectives on how regional collaboration efforts can help address air pollution in Asia and the Pacific
- Demonstrate the close linkages of air quality to other environmental/developmental challenges like climate change, ecosystem health, pollution (interlinkages with other forms as well) and economic development
 Asia and the Pacific: SDG Progress Report 2022. UNESCAP, 2022: https://www.unescap.org/kp/2022/asia-and-pacific-sdg-progress-report-2022#