First WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, 30 October – 1 November 2018

Improving air quality, combatting climate change – saving lives

First WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health - Conference summary report: CLEAN AIR FOR HEALTH: Geneva Action Agenda

Geneva, 1st November 2018 - At the conclusion of the first WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, participants agreed an aspirational goal of reducing the number of deaths from air pollution by two thirds by 2030. Leaders from national and city governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, philanthropy, research and academia considered the scientific evidence on air pollution and health and emphasized the urgent need for bold and prompt action to address this health crisis.

A schoolboy walks through smoke and fumes emitted from a waste dump in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt

Air pollution is "the new tobacco...” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General

The first two days of the conference presented evidence, identified gaps and solutions, and was targeted at practitioners and other technical and political representatives from the health sector and other sectors relevant to the discourse. The third day was a High-Level Action Day.

A schoolboy walks through smoke and fumes emitted from a waste dump in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt (photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

Healthy People – Healthy Planet

A special BreatheLife concert held on 31 October, featured Grammy® Winner and "United Nations Humanitarian Artist" Ricky Kej. This free, public concert event will expand awareness in the Geneva international community about air pollution as a critical health, climate and environment issue through music, video and art. Known for his signature – "Music for the Planet", Ricky Kej and his ensemble of musicians from countries as diverse as Ghana, India, Peru, Viet Nam, South Africa, and the USA played compositions of ‘World Music for Healthy People and Planet’.

Air pollution causes 1 in 9 deaths worldwide

The Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, 30 October – 1 November 2018 was the first-ever global event to focus on both air pollution and health.

Participants included ministers of health and environment and other national government representatives; representatives of intergovernmental agencies, health professionals, other sectors (e.g. transport, energy, etc.), as well as from research, academia and civil society.

The conference also advanced collaborations between WHO and sister UN agencies.

An indian woman and her baby in air pollution

Conference aims and outcomes

The conference recognized the need for an aspirational goal of reducing the 7 million deaths a year due to air pollution by 2030, as a contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Countries, urban mayors, and civil society were invited to make commitments to the global advocacy campaign BreatheLife2030 to meet WHO's Air Quality Guidelines and reduce climate emissions.

The conference underlined the links between air pollution and the global epidemic of NCDs and positioned the health sector to catalyse actions for health-wise policies on clean household energy, transport, and waste.

Gates Foundation
Kenya - Wema Centre - Street Children Saumu has a solar light fitted in her house to help her study. Wema has supplied about 100 solar lights to students of Mari Mani School.

Conference objectives

The first two days of the conference presented evidence, identified gaps and solutions, and was targeted at practitioners and other technical and political representatives from the health sector and other sectors relevant to the discourse. The third day was a High-Level Action Day which focused on the following objectives: plan of action; health systems engagement; commitments

Wema Centre, Kenya - Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

Conference sessions and activities

Conference sessions covered themes such as:

Science and evidence, including the latest on health effects, forecasting and monitoring, and extreme events

Methods and tools for informed decisions – estimating health impacts and planning interventions in sectors like transport, energy and waste, as developed by the Urban Health Initiative

Strategies and solutions being adopted by countries and cities to improve air quality at urban and household level

Cross-sector collaborations between health, environment and development sectors to reduce air pollution and mitigate climate change

Partnerships and advocacy with countries and cities, UN partners, development agencies, research, university and civil society.

Join and view the conference sessions remotely

WHO would like to thank all participants of the First WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health!

Almost 900 participants registered for the conference. We experienced lively and engaged discussions about air pollution, its health effects, how to tackle this global crisis and related health, climate and economic benefits.

In effect, we received and/or heard more than 70 commitments from countries, cities, UN organizations, intergovernmental organizations and civil society to tackle air pollution, or to contribute to the global battle, providing a positive message of hope and encouraging further engagement of the global community to keep moving on a path towards cleaner air. The received written commitments will soon be posted on the website.

Session presentations are available on this website. Please also note that all sessions of the conference were recorded and will remain available on this website until January.

Conference supporters

WHO is grateful to the governments of France, Germany, Monaco, Norway and Switzerland for their financial support to this conference.

WHO would also like to express its gratitude for the financial support provided by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO), the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), The World Bank and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), in addition to the in kind support provided by the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG)

Additional funding is provided by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), the UN Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.

For more information contact: aphconference@who.int



Conference information

Resources

Links, tools and more


Connect with us on social media

  • Facebook
    Join discussions in our group and share ideas and information on Facebook

Social events / exhibits

Healthy People – Healthy Planet

A BreatheLife concert

A BreatheLife special concert held on 31 October, featured Grammy® Award winner and United Nations Humanitarian Artist, Ricky Kej and an incredible international ensemble

BreatheLife Concert flyer
pdf, 195kb

Where art meets science – Pollution Pods

Pollution Pods exhibit by artist Michael Pinsky, Place des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

Organized by the World Health Organization with the support of the Swiss Confederation


Our collaborating partners