EDF notes passage of clean air resolution at United Nations Environmental Assembly, points out critical areas for improvement

Statement of Sarah Vogel, Senior Vice President, Healthy Communities

March 5, 2024
Derek Schwabe, dschwabe@edf.org

(Nairobi, Kenya - Tuesday, March 5) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) applauds the Sixth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) for recently adopting a global resolution on air pollution, marking an essential step toward combating a significant global health and environmental crisis. UNEA is the world’s highest-level decision-making body for environmental issues, with 193 member states. Sarah Vogel, EDF’s Senior Vice President for Healthy Communities, celebrated the resolution’s strengths and noted critical areas for improvement in the following statement:

"This resolution takes a comprehensive stance, recognizing air pollution's multifaceted impacts on health, ecosystems and the economy. It underscores the necessity of regional and global cooperation, alongside capacity building and technological advancements, for air quality monitoring. It rightly calls for policies that tackle air pollution and climate change together, highlighting the potential to accelerate solutions that advance health and climate benefits.

"Despite these strengths, EDF points out critical areas for improvement, such as the lack of defined funding mechanisms and strategies, particularly for supporting developing countries. The resolution's reliance on voluntary actions instead of binding commitments may present significant challenges to driving meaningful change, especially in nations with severe air pollution. Moreover, there's an urgent need for countries to increase their capacities to monitor air pollution and track progress on their efforts to reduce it, while protecting vulnerable populations.

"Centering environmental justice requires integrating air pollution management with broader policy areas—such as urban planning, energy, transport and agriculture—and designing public engagement initiatives to empower those most affected. We call on leaders across sectors to pursue policy and financing instruments that will help abate air pollution and accelerate the transition to renewable energy, as well as stringent legal frameworks to strengthen and enforce air quality standards."

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