(PANAMA CITY – September 7, 2022) A new partnership announced today between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) will build collaborative clean air solutions in 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries over the next four years.
Today’s announcement is in conjunction with the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, a global movement to inspire and scale action on air pollution. The new collaboration between UNEP and EDF aims to leapfrog current barriers to advancing clean air in the region.
Air pollution is the leading environmental risk for early death, responsible for nearly 7 million premature deaths each year around the world from heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and respiratory diseases. More than 500 million people living in Latin America and the Caribbean breathe air that exceeds the World Health Organization’s guidelines for pollutants like nitrogen dioxide, fine particle pollution and ground-level ozone.
The overarching goals of this regional collaboration include increasing the understanding and awareness of air pollution levels, sources and health impacts; enhancing air quality management practices and tools; strengthening regional cooperation across cities and countries; and securing necessary funding to enable and deliver high-impact solutions to maximize benefits to public health and climate. Collaborating partners will include representatives from government, private sector, civil society, grassroots organizations, international development agencies and philanthropic organizations.
“Air pollution knows no geographic boundaries, and regional cooperation across cities and nations will be critical to improve air quality, reduce climate pollution and ensure a healthier future for everyone,” said Amanda Leland, EDF’s executive director. “Many of the same sources of pollution, notably the use of fossil fuels, harm our health and warm the planet. This clean air partnership addressed to 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries will bring significant public health benefits and advance climate action goals where more than half a billion people live, work and play.”
“We are pleased to help strengthen international cooperation for clean air in Latin America and the Caribbean through the Regional Action Plan 2022-2025 we are presenting today, joining efforts with different key partners such as Environmental Defense Fund,” said Jacqueline Alvarez, UNEP’s Latin America and the Caribbean regional director. “As the UN Secretary-General himself has said, clean air is now a human right, and we need to continue working with countries and cities, experts, international organizations and civil society to promote action to clean the air we share.”
To launch regional activities and dialogue between participating nations, UNEP and EDF, along with the Regional Intergovernmental Network on Air Pollution for Latin America and the Caribbean, will co-host an international workshop on October 5-6 in Bogotá, Colombia. The workshop will provide resources on state-of-the-art air quality management strategies, including opportunities to adopt emerging practices into clean air and climate plans, for at least 50 air quality practitioners from the region.
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