Pollution is the greatest risk to human life, more so in India than in any other country, and will remain so in the post-covid world.
Air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year. In India, a quarter of India’s population is exposed to pollution levels not seen in any other country, according to data released by air quality life index (AQLI). An average Indian’s life is cut short by more than five years, relative to what it would be if the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline was met, the data showed.
But, the COVID-19 lockdowns have given people a glimpse of a clean air future.
September 7 will see the first-ever day to raise awareness on air pollution worldwide.
As lockdowns are being eased, pollution may go up again. So, other measures than drastic lockdowns should be implemented to achieve long-lasting blue skies. 7 September will therefore, be the opportunity to demand greater policy commitment for zero pollution, especially in the recovery measures, to achieve the switch from polluting to health-promoting economies.
The Day aims to:
1. Raise public awareness at all levels—individual, community, corporate, and government—that clean air is important for health, productivity, the economy, and the environment.
2. Demonstrate the close link of air quality to other environmental/ developmental challenges such as – most and foremost – climate change and the global Sustainable Development Goals.
3. Promote and facilitate solutions that improve air quality by sharing actionable knowledge best practices, innovations, and success stories.
4. Bring together diverse international actors working on this topic to form a strategic alliance to gain momentum for concerted national, regional, and international approaches for effective air quality management.
The first celebration will set a precedent for an important and exciting new international day for clean air to be celebrated annually.
Given the current backdrop with the wide-scale transmission of COVID-19, the day assumes an even more important role in propagating the urgent need to address air pollution and the challenges it poses while adding emphasis on moving toward sustainability at an individual, national as well as global level.