Photo: Unsplash/Johannes Plenio
05 Sep 2022 Video Air

Air pollution knows no borders, so nations must work together: UN Secretary-General

 United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres outlines steps needed to tackle air pollution and ensure a healthy, sustainable planet for all ahead of the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies on 7 September. 

In July this year, nations recognized the universal right to clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Clean air is now a human right. A stable climate is a human right. Healthy nature is a human right.

Today, air pollution is denying billions of people of their rights. Dirty air affects 99 per cent of people on the planet, and the poor suffer worst. Especially women and girls who suffer from cooking and heating with dirty fuels.

The poor also live in areas choked with fumes from traffic and industry. Air pollutants also cause global warming, and wildfires are further polluting the air. And when people are exposed to air pollution and extreme heat, their risk of death is some 20 per cent higher.

Climate change and air pollution are a deadly duo. On this third International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, I call on all countries to work together to combat air pollution.

We know what to do: invest in renewable energy and swiftly transition away from fossil fuels; rapidly move to zero-emission vehicles and alternative modes of transport; increase access to clean cooking, heating and cooling; recycle waste instead of burning it.

These actions would save millions of lives each year, slow climate change and speed up sustainable development.

Air pollution knows no borders, so nations must work together.

Let’s monitor air pollution, makes laws to implement World Health Organisation guidelines and deliver credible plans to reduce emissions from vehicles, power plants, construction and industry.

Together we can reduce air pollution and keep people and the planet healthy and safe.


Every year, on 7 September, the world celebrates the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies. The day aims to raise awareness and facilitate actions to improve air quality. It is a global call to find new ways of doing things, to reduce the amount of air pollution we cause, and ensure that everyone, everywhere can enjoy their right to breathe clean air. The theme of the third annual International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, facilitated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is “The Air We Share.”