Air pollution is the most important environmental risk factor to global health: The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 4.2 million deaths annually can be attributed to outdoor air pollution and that 91% of the world’s population are exposed to harmful air.
Our innovative work in developing DIMAQ, the Data Integration Model for Air Quality, enabled us to provide these figures to the WHO and is enabling countries around the world to understand their particular issues with air pollution.
DIMAQ data is driving implementation and monitoring progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs call for international action to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination, and tackling air pollution is crucial to achieving these goals. DIMAQ is also informing the WHO’s ‘Triple Billion’ programme, by driving action and tracking progress, to help one billion people enjoy better health and wellbeing by 2023.
DIMAQ is not only performing health analysis and improving understanding on a global scale, but it’s also enabling individual countries to develop, adopt and implement policy interventions designed to reduce air pollution, and to save lives.
At the First WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health: Improving Air Quality, Combatting Climate Change – Saving Lives, our team presented the results from DIMAQ and ran a workshop for representatives of member states, leaders from national and city governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, research and academia.
Participants agreed an aspiration goal of reducing the number of deaths from air pollution by two thirds by 2030, which would represent nearly 5 million premature deaths saved each year and a reduction in the estimated economic impact of premature deaths, estimated to be 4.4% of global GDP.
At the conference more than 70 commitments were announced by individual countries, cities, UN organisations, intergovernmental organisations and civil society to tackle air pollution and achieve this goal. Many of these are already being implemented in national policies.
DIMAQ data also provides the information for the interactive website BreatheLife which allows people to see the air pollution levels in their cities and get involved in the drive for cleaner air. The BreatheLife campaign is a WHO, UNEP, Climate & Clean Air Coalition and World Bank initiative.
Quantifying and monitoring the effects of exposure to air pollution in terms of public health is a critical component in policy discussion worldwide. DIMAQ data is playing a vital role in driving policy and investment which is providing affordable and sustainable access to clean energy; cleaner transport and power generation; energy-efficient housing; and municipal waste management.