GENEVA - Participants at the first ever WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution have adopted a plan for reducing air pollution, which every year prematurely kills an estimated seven million people.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called the conference a resounding success, noting 900 people attended, twice as many as expected. Furthermore, it says more than 70-member states, non-governmental organizations, and other participants have made voluntary commitments to take action to reduce air pollution.
Director of the WHO’s Department of Public Health and Environment Maria Neira said the WHO is taking a leading role in setting forth action to tackle air pollution for a cleaner, healthier world.
“WHO, as the global health agency, made, as well, very strong commitments, starting by proposing an aspiration target of reducing by two-thirds the mortality caused by air pollution by the year 2030. And, this is really a big challenge that we will mobilize and, we will call for everyone to contribute to that,” she said.
Neira said prompt action is needed to reach that goal. For example, she says people need to stop burning solid waste and agricultural waste. She said they have to move away from fossil fuels. She said people in Africa and other areas with populations in great need must be helped to meet the goal.
“We need to liberate those three billion people that today, they are still relying on fossil fuels at the household level to cook or heat or light their house. We need to make sure that they will have access to clean sources of energy,” said Neira.
The WHO plans to put in place a tracking system to monitor commitments made by the participants. The system is intended to gauge the progress being made toward achieving better health for all by freeing the world of air pollution.