Scientific Publications

Clean Air for All by 2030? Air Quality in the 2030 Agenda and in International Law


The universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in September 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly, offers an important opportunity to tackle air pollution at a global scale. Stressing the importance of air pollution as a human health hazard, this article examines to what extent air quality is covered by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and provides an analysis of the added value of the 2030 Agenda vis-a-vis existing international regulatory instruments addressing air pollution.

Even though the SDGs do not include a stand-alone goal on air quality, the article concludes that the 2030 Agenda, by establishing clean air as an integral element of the principle of sustainable development, not only constitutes an important contribution to international (hard) law focusing on the atmosphere, but also sets out a much needed complementary pathway of tackling the issue in the absence of a global agreement on air pollution.