Nations re-affirm their engagement to improve air quality globally through a new resolution at UNEA-6

Bangkok, 28 March 2024

The 6th edition of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) took place from 26 February to 1 March 2024, at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, gathering over 6,000 delegates. The Assembly adopted 15 resolutions, including a resolution on Promoting Regional Cooperation on Air Pollution to Improve Air Quality Globally.


What is UNEA?

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) was created in 2012, as an outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). UNEA is the world’s highest-level decision-making body for matters related to the environment. Usually held every two years, the Assembly includes the universal membership of 193 Member States. It sets the global environment agenda, provides policy responses to environmental challenges, and provides strategic guidance on the future direction of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UNEA has adopted many important resolutions over the years, including a resolution in 2022 that called for a legally binding international instrument to end plastic pollution.



Taking Action to Fight Air Pollution

Recognizing that air pollution is a major threat to the environment and to human health, with more than 7 million people dying prematurely due to air pollution every year, Member States adopted a resolution 1/7 on strengthening the role of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in promoting air quality at UNEA-1 in 2014. A second resolution was adopted at UNEA-3 in December 2017 on Preventing and reducing air pollution to improve air quality globally. Following the adoption of these two resolutions, UNEP implemented numerous activities creating awareness, building capacity and partnerships. These included strengthening cooperation with existing regional and global initiatives such as the EANET, as mentioned specifically in resolution 1/7.


UNEA’s Third Resolution on Air Quality

At UNEA-6, Member States adopted 15 resolutions aiming to tackle the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste, including the resolution on Promoting Regional Cooperation on Air Pollution to Improve Air Quality Globally.

This new resolution builds on Resolutions 1/7 and 3/8 and encourages Member States to continue their efforts to improve air quality by working on national air quality programmes and standards, bearing in mind the WHO global air quality guidelines. In addition, Member States requested UNEP’s Executive Director to form an air quality cooperation network to work with governments, UN organizations, multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), international and regional initiatives, including the EANET. This network’s tasks will include raising awareness on air pollution’s impacts and the importance of mitigation actions, supporting capacity building, and encouraging collaboration with Member States with advanced air quality management capabilities to enhance national monitoring using low-cost sensors, satellite data, and other digital solutions, sharing knowledge, facilitating expertise exchange including on nitrogen management, and regional air quality programs, and building an updated global online platform for information-sharing and communication on air quality.


How the EANET can contribute to the implementation of this resolution

Just as in Resolution 1.7, this latest Resolution directly references the EANET and its role alongside various other key regional air quality initiatives: “Acknowledging the progress achieved by existing bodies and initiatives that facilitate cooperation on in-country and transboundary air pollution, including the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (…) and the Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia”.

The EANET, as a robust regional intergovernmental body with standardized monitoring methodologies, already significantly contributes to UNEA Resolutions 1/7 and 3/8 on air quality. Since 2001, the network has developed open access high-quality datasets through centralized and government-approved data collection, publishes Periodic Reports on Acid Deposition in East Asia, leads joint research projects, offers capacity-building activities to enhance its Participating Countries’ technical capabilities, raises public awareness and strengthens cooperation with regional and global initiatives.

The EANET coordinates with other global and regional networks and initiatives to promote cooperation. In May-June 2024, the EANET, together with UNEP and ESCAP, are organizing the Workshop “Unlocking and Future-Proofing Air Quality Management in Asia”. The Workshop will provide a venue for EANET National Focal Points to discuss the future direction of its network and inputs for the development of its next Medium Term Plan for 2026-2030.


Photo credits: UNEA-6, the Opening plenary of the MEA day, 28 February 2024, ©UNEP / Francis Kiguta on Flickr.