14 November 2017

UN Environment, nrg4SD and ICLEI worked together at climate talks to fight air pollution

During the 8th Sustainable Innovation Forum (SIF), Climate Action partnered with international organisations to bring together city Mayors and regional governments to discuss ways to tackle air pollution.

On 13 November 2017, during the 1st day of SIF, UN Environment and the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD) organised a panel at the Climate Action domes which included speakers such as Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director of UN Environment and Maria Neira, Director of the Public Health and Environment Department, WHO. 

During the event, 10 regional governments across the world joined the BreatheLife campaign- a Climate and Clean Air Coalition initiative led by World Health Organisation and UN Environment.

The regions which joined are Gossas (Senegal), Jalisco and Campeche (Mexico), Plateau (Benin), Catalonia and Basque Country (Spain), Chaco (Argentina), Azuay (Ecuador), Lombardy (Italy) and Valle de Aburra (Colombia). 


                                                Source: Twitter @mediambientcat 

By joining the campaign, these regions have committed to take action to mitigate air pollution and pursue the World Health Organization’s (WHO) air quality standards for clean air by 2030.

Policies to be pursued are the implementation of mobility and transportation policies, such as sustainable and clean transportation, vehicle pollution control and the development of long-term efficient mass transit, setting up standards on emissions for both households and industries and regulating the disposal and management of solid waste.

Natalia Vera, Secretary-General of nrg4SD said: "Regional governments play a defining role in reducing and controlling air pollution”.

She added: “Acting over the whole territory, the further engagement of regions could be game-changing, especially through the regulation of industrial activities, transportation, emissions standards, energy production and distribution, waste management and others”.   

On 14 November, during the 2nd day of SIF, Climate Action in partnership with UN Environment and ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability organised the ‘BreatheLife Cities Breakfast Roundtable’ where high level representatives of cities, municipalities, regional governments and international organisations embarked on a discussion linked to the BreatheLife campaign.

During the discussion, the Mayors detailed the practical steps, ideas, and solutions to combat pollution and future measures to create healthier cities including reskilling workers in the fossil fuel industry, parking schemes to discourage car use, collecting data on air quality, and using street lighting more efficiently.

The discussion was moderated by Maria Neira, Director of the Public Health and Environment Department, WHO.

Ashok-Alexander Sridharan, Mayor of Bonn, Bertrand Piccard, President of the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions and Chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation and Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director of UN Environment delivered opening remarks. 


                                                  Source: Twitter @bertrandpiccard

Regional and local governments which signed the BreatheLife campaign were Bonn (Germany), Tshwane (South Africa), Mount Baker (Australia), Bristol (UK), and Västra Götaland County (Sweden). 

The highly successful events convinced 14 new cities and regions to commit to the battle against air pollution triggering positive reactions.

Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment said: “By tackling the root causes of air pollution, cities 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”.

Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Secretary General, commented: "Over two million lives are lost every year to air pollution. With the same means by which we power our economies and move to one place to the other, we also slowly poison ourselves. Fossil fuels are suffocating, sometimes literally, our cities and us who live in them”.

“We came to COP23 to discuss how to accelerate climate action at all levels. Phasing out fossil fuels is not only going to prevent the climate from changing even further. It will also save lives. ICLEI is proud to support this crucial BreathLife campaign to enact, in our cities, as many measures and policies possible to reduce current and prevent future air pollution”. 

You can learn more on the BreathLife campaign here

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