What is the right to clean air?

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"The right to clean air is a human right. If we can not breathe clean air, we can not enjoy health, we can not live to the fullest, "Leo Heileman

What is the right to clean air?

#BeatAirPollution was the theme of World Environment Day. A commemoration that seeks to draw attention to a specific topic to find and implement effective solutions. Although on June 5, the media, governments, NGOs, among others, did the same to make the planet less polluted, the struggle is not a single day but must be maintained over time.

Leer en español: ¿Qué es el derecho al aire limpio?

Una publicación compartida por UN Environment (@unenvironment) el


This is why for Leo Heileman, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the UN Environment, this is the greatest environmental challenge facing humanity. In fact, according to the UN, poor air quality kills 800 people per hour and in America is responsible for 300 thousand deaths per year. "There is no region on Earth that is free of this disease, which causes a quarter of cases of embolism, lung cancer, and heart disease", says Heileman.

The figures become more alarming due to the fact that in 97% of cities that belong to developing countries, they do not meet air quality standards. In addition to environmental and health costs, the World Bank ensures that pollution exceeds $5 trillion per year. The official affirms that "nobody on the planet should have to choose between going out on the street with a mask or staying locked up at home. No, our right is to live fully outdoors in cities and rural areas that are sustainable and resilient. Our right is to live on a planet #BeatAirPollution".

What to do?

Our right to breathe, contemplated in more than 100 constitutions worldwide, must be guaranteed by all the social actors involved. That is, from the common citizen to the president of the nation.


Una publicación compartida por UN Environment (@unenvironment) el


Read also: Latin America pedals for clean air

In this sense, what we can do, as the UN, NGOs, governments have said, among other organizations, is:

  • Increase air quality monitoring
  • Implement stricter controls for greenhouse gas emissions
  • Promote sustainable public transport
  • Limit greenhouse gases from sectors such as industry and agriculture.
  • Expand green spaces in cities, such as parks
  • Reduce the use of firewood in homes and the burning of garbage outdoors
  • Control fires
  • Promote energy efficiency and renewable energies


LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza

Translated from "¿Qué es el derecho al aire limpio?"