Network Updates / Cartagena, Colombia / 2024-06-01

WHO to host second global conference on air pollution and health :
Accelerating action for clean air, clean energy access and climate mitigation.

Conference to focus on solutions and raising the ambition for clean air action. 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.  

Cartagena, Colombia
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Air pollution and health: a lethal toll  

Living with laboured breath, punctuated by asthma attacks or clouded by cataracts – 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. This leads to 7 million deaths every year. 

Air pollution knows no boundaries or borders, and affects almost all vital organs and systems in our bodies. 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 implement solutions.


Action for clean air, clean energy access and climate mitigation 

In recognition of the urgent need to address the health impacts of air pollution, lack of energy access and climate change, WHO’s Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced that WHO will host its 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 and catalyse evidence-based, multi-sectoral actions in cities, countries and regions, aiming to prevent diseases and save lives across the world.

High-level participants from across the globe 

 The high-level event will bring together Ministers of Health, Environment, 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 the 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.  
  • Countries, regions and cities join BreatheLife and commit to air pollution reductions by 2030 and beyond.  

Sessions on clean air, energy access, climate mitigation 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, mayors, intergovernmental organizations, development agencies, and civil society organizations to commit to participating in this global effort. 

Attendance is by invitation only.

More information can be found here:  

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