Clean air is the basic human right of every individual of this planet regardless of geography or socioeconomic status. But now, air pollution is a worldwide issue, which influences human health, planetary health, and climate change. Air pollution is the principal environmental risk to global public health, it is projected that 92% of the population is exposed to polluted air instigating an appraised seven million premature deaths each year. Polluted air chiefly impacts children, women, and the elderly, with increased relations to diseases such as dementia, diabetes, COVID-19, cardio-vascular and neurological diseases.

Developed countries have significantly enhanced their air quality in recent years but many developing countries, still dependent on wood and other solid fuels for cooking and heating, lag. The consequence is that many vulnerable and sidelined persons also grieve from the worst air quality.

The issue was credited to the fore during the COVID-19 pandemic, with data signifying that air pollution could be tapping people at further risk of infection. The pandemic caused in a reduction in air pollution and an upsurge in air quality, as air travel and car travel reduced during international lock-downs.

“As the world starts to emerge from COVID-19, we have the opportunity to lay the foundations for a green, inclusive recovery to ensure that we don’t lose the environmental gains we have made,” said Andersen.

Map showing NO2 reductions over Peshawar before (1st March- 23rd March 2020) and after (24th March- 15th April 2020) the national lockdown announcement (Source: Sunil Dahiya and Dawar Butt, CREA)

This pandemic has made us realize that we can work for clean air and it imparts positive impacts. It was publicized that 7th September will be designated for clean air internationally. The theme of the Second Annual International Day Of Clear Air For Blue Skies 2021, facilitated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is “Healthy Air, Healthy Planet.”

The event was to be held on September 7, was established by UN resolution in 2019 at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, where UNEP was asked to facilitate all events moving forward. The first event, with the theme “Clean Air for All,” was held on September 7, 2020.

International Day of Clear Air for blue skies raises awareness and facilitates actions to improve air quality. It draws people’s attention of all level on how important clean air is and how we can move further for the cause.

About the Author: Maryam Eqan is an Executive In-chief and Founder of The Earth Needs Love. She believes in youth engagement and activism for environment, climate and sustainable development.