Breathing Life With Clean Air Action: Civil Society Drives Change


Air pollution remains one of the biggest killers globally, claiming the lives of seven million people annually. The biggest health burden is in developing cities, including South Asia. In Sub-Saharan Africa, air pollution is now second only to malnutrition as a health risk. Air pollution causes one fourth to one third of deaths from leading NCDs, including heart and chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, and stroke. The same unsustainable patterns of urban development and fossil fuel use driving air pollution also are the main causes of climate change, deforestation and biodiversity loss - thereby increasing future pandemic risks.

In many World Health Organization (WHO) member states health actors remain unsure of the role they can really play to address this critical health risk. This event will illustrate how WHO and UN partners, working together with other global health partners, can support and promote effective civil society action on cleaner air and healthier cities - amplifying the impact of WHA decisions.

The event will zero in on vibrant examples of civil society and youth action in the Global South where the need is greatest, including groups: deploying low-cost, wearable air quality monitors; addressing waste burning at community level and empowering maternal and child health workers to address childhood illness from polluted air.


Introduction by Martina Otto | Head, Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat 

Panel moderator: Gillian Holmes | Programme Director, Clean Air Fund

  • Elvis Ndikum Achiri | Coordinator at Global Youth 4 Clean Air and Climate Health Action, Cameroon
  • Dr Camilla Kingdon | President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, UK
  • Dr. Andriannah Mbandi | Lead, Waste, UNFCCC Climate Champions 
  • Dr Tollulah Oni | Clinical Director of Research, University of Cambridge founder and co-sponsor of Urban Better Cityzens for Clean Air Campaign
  • Sergio Sanchez | Senior Policy Director, Global Clean Air, Environmental Defense Fund

Moderated by Dr Maria Neira | Director of Environment, Climate Change and Health at the World Health Organization (WHO