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UN to step up action on air pollution

United Nations Environment Assembly identifies air pollution as top issue requiring immediate action after meeting in Kenya last week

Air pollution has been identified as a top issue that ‘requires immediate action by the international community’ by the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA).

The inaugural UNEA concluded its five-day deliberations in Nairobi, Kenya, last week (June 27), having agreed 16 decisions and resolutions to encourage international actions on environmental issues including air quality.

The United Nations Environment Assembly took place in Nairobi last week

The United Nations Environment Assembly took place in Nairobi last week

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), delegates ‘unanimously agreed to encourage governments to set standards and policies across multiple sectors to reduce emissions and manage the negative impacts of air pollution on health, the economy, and overall sustainable development’.

In addition, UNEP was mandated to step-up its support to governments through ‘capacity building, the provision of data and assessments and periodic reporting on progress made’.

This support, UNEP said, would strengthen its existing work on air quality and transport emissions through programmes such as the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the Partnership for Clean Fuel and Vehicles.

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP executive director, Achim Steiner, said: “Poor air quality is a growing challenge, especially in cities and urban centres, compromising the lives of millions worldwide. Action to reduce air pollution will save lives and provide co-benefits for the climate, ecosystem services, biodiversity and food security.â€?

He added: “These resolutions, including the one on air quality, provide a clear indication that, in its successful and ambitious first session, UNEA is providing a robust policymaking platform that truly places the environment at the heart of sustainable development.â€?

According to UNEP, the international community participated in the UNEA in record numbers, with delegations from 160 UN Member and Observer States and stakeholders from multiple sectors present.

UNEA is the governing body of UNEP and the principal body of the UN in the field of the environment. It has universal membership of all 193 UN member states.

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