WHO to host second global conference on air pollution and health

Air pollution’s lethal toll

Laboured breath, asthma attacks and clouded vision from cataracts are just some of the many health effects caused by air pollution. Mounting evidence links ambient and household air pollution to various health outcomes like noncommunicable diseases including respiratory, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, cancer, low birth weight, diabetes, cognitive impairment and mental health impacts. The effects of air pollution lead to an estimated 7 million deaths every year.

Air pollution knows no boundaries or no borders and affects almost all vital organs and systems in our body. Toxic pollutants pass from the air into our bodies, from our blood to our brains, and from a pregnant mother to her unborn child. Due to many sources of air pollution, many actors must collaborate to put solutions in place.

Action for clean air, clean energy access and climate mitigation

In recognition of the urgent need to tackle the global issue of air pollution and lack of energy access, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, announced that WHO will host the Second global conference on air pollution and health: accelerating action for clean air, clean energy access and climate mitigation. The event will take place in Cartagena, Colombia, between 25 and 27 March 2025, with pre- and post-conference sessions on March 24 and 28.

The conference will highlight much needed policy solutions for air pollution and lack of energy access. It will also help to catalyse evidence-based, multi-sectoral actions in cities, countries and regions which aims to prevent diseases and save lives around the world.

High-level participants from across the globe

The high-level event will bring together ministers of health, environment and energy, as well as officials of national, intergovernmental and development agencies. Participants will include health professionals, mayors, local authorities and planners, representatives of critical sectors such as energy, transport, industry, waste and land-use, as well as delegates from research, academia and civil society.

The conference will spotlight solutions to improve air quality by implementing well-known and readily available actions which prevent premature deaths, improve public health, drive sustainable economic development and mitigate climate change.

Conference goals

Key objectives of the conference include:

  • sharing the latest evidence on health risks of air pollution and energy poverty, assessment tools and resources for decision-making;
  • taking stock of global progress since 2015 after the WHA resolution was passed and the start of the Sustainable Development Goals;
  • showcasing health, climate, gender and equity co-benefits of air pollution and energy action;
  • mobilizing, valuing and empowering health professionals to prescribe clean air for health and protect health of vulnerable populations;
  • iterating strategies to mitigate the health sector’s environmental footprint;
  • harnessing climate and development finance to tackle air pollution and ensure a just energy transition;
  • leveraging health arguments to drive country cooperation and financial commitments; and
  • countries, regions and cities joining BreatheLife and commiting to air pollution reductions by 2030 and beyond.

Various sessions around clean air, energy and health

The global conference will feature dynamic sessions on health evidence, concrete policies and interventions, governance, health sector leadership and advocacy.

The outcome of the conference should support countries, regions and cities to reduce air pollution and accelerate clean energy access for health protection through the achievement of WHO Global Air Quality Guidelines.

WHO will invite Member States, elected officials including mayors, intergovernmental organizations, development agencies and civil society organization to make commitments to take part in this global effort.

The attendance to the event is by invitation only and more details can be found on the event page.

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