Regional governments act to clean the air for 35 million citizens

Ten regions from eight countries join the BreatheLife campaign. The regions are taking over 100 key measures to mitigate air pollution.


UN Environment’s Deputy Executive Director, Ibrahim Thiaw, and the World Health Organisation's Public Health and the Environment Department Director, Dr. Maria Neira, welcoming the first group of regions joining the BreatheLife campaign.

Ten regional governments from around the world are the first to take the next step in the fight against air pollution to protect health and the climate by joining the BreatheLife campaign this month. The ten regions: Gossas (Senegal), Jalisco and Campeche (Mexico), Plateau (Benin), Catalonia and Basque Country (Spain), Chaco (Argentina), Azuay (Ecuador), Lombardy (Italy) and Valle de Aburra (Colombia) together encompass a total population of over 35 million.

Regional governments play a defining role in reducing and controlling air pollution. Acting over the whole territory, the further engagement of regions could be game changing, especially through the regulation of industrial activities, transportation, emissions standards, energy production and distribution, waste management and others. Because it’s urgent regions take further action on air pollution, nrg4SD is fully committed to promote the BreatheLife among its members".
Natalia Vera
Secretary-General of nrg4SD

By joining the campaign, these regions commit to take action to mitigate air pollution and bring the air quality in urban areas back to World Health Organization’s (WHO) air quality standards for clean air by 2030. Many air pollutants – like black carbon and methane, which forms ground level ozone (smog) – are also powerful climate forcers with global warming potentials many time that of carbon dioxide. Reducing them will protect health and help us stay below 2 degrees Celsius.

Marta Subirà, Secretary for Environment and Sustainability for Catalonia, Spain said: "The air quality around Barcelona is a chronic problem which has become one of our main concerns in the latest years. It is an urgent issue that affects the health of all citizens. This is why we have taken powerful and coordinated action through the Agreement for Improving Air Quality, which brings together other public administrations to transform the quality of life of the people in Catalonia." 

Supported by the organizations involved in the BreatheLife campaign, regional governments will lead the implementation of over 100 key actions to curb air pollution, including: develop sustainable mobility and transportation policies, such as sustainable and clean transportation, vehicle pollution control and the development of long-term efficient mass transit; regulate and improve the disposal and management of solid waste; set ambitious standards on emissions for both households and industries; encourage and incentivize the development of sustainable energy solutions.

“By tackling the root causes of air pollution, cities and regions are delivering a better quality of life for their citizens and concrete action on climate change. This shows that positive environmental action is not a burden, but rather an exciting opportunity. Cleaner cities will be happier, healthier and more productive!” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

“This BreatheLife campaign commitment shows how cities and regions can provide a strong platform for actions that benefit both health, climate and environment,” said Dr Maria Neira, Director of Public Health and Environment, World Health Organization, and a former Deputy Minister of Health in Spain.  “In addition, the fact that both cities and regions in developed and developing countries are joining the campaign reflects the shared challenges that we face to our health– and our joint determination to address those as a global community.”

Due to the strategic position of regional governments between the national and local levels, they are uniquely suited for the optimal implementation of policies on the ground. Regional governments are also instrumental in ensuring the cooperation, coordination and coherence of the actions developed by all governmental levels and in translating global commitments into concrete territorial action.

The BreatheLife campaign is a collaboration of UN Environment, the World Health Organization and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC).

The Launch event was co-hosted by UN Environment and the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD), a global network that serves as the voice of regional governments at UN negotiations, European Union initiatives and international agendas on climate change, biodiversity and sustainable governments. 


Notes to Editors

About BreatheLife

BreatheLife is a joint campaign led by the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Environment and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC). This global campaign aims to mobilize cities and individuals to protect our health, our climate, and our planet from the effects of air pollution. The campaign provides a platform for cities to demonstrate progress, expand monitoring efforts, accelerate solutions and educate people about the burden air pollution poses to our health and our climate and provide meaningful ways to take action both locally and globally. Learn more

About UN Environment

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world. Find out more

UN Environment Assembly

The UN Environment Assembly, the world's highest-level decision-making body on the environment, will gather in Nairobi, Kenya, from 4-6 December 2017 under the overarching theme of pollution. Find out more

The nrg4SD network has over 50 members worldwide and serves as the voice of regional governments at UN negotiations, European Union initiatives and international agendas on climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development, advocating for recognition and engagement of regional governments.

About the Climate and Clean Air Coalition

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition is a voluntary global partnership of 54 countries, 17 intergovernmental organizations, and 45 businesses, scientific institutions and civil society organizations committed to catalyzing concrete, substantial action to reduce Short Lived Climate Pollutants (including methane, black carbon and many hydrofluorocarbons). Reducing short-lived climate pollutants can provide benefits to health, development, and the environment. These actions must go hand in hand with deep and persistent cuts to carbon dioxide and other long-lived greenhouse gases if we are to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement and keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

For media enquiries, please contact:

UN Environment News & Media,

Tiy Chung, Communications Officer, Climate and Clean Air Coalition. Phone: +33 1 44 37 14 21; Mobile: +33 6 26 71 79 81; email:

Expert assistance

Our Expert Assistance is a no-cost service that connects you to an extensive network of professionals for consultation and advice on a range of short-lived climate pollution issues and policies.  

Experts will provide guidance on technological options, mitigation measures (like those carried out by our initiatives), funding opportunities, application of measurement tools, and policy development.

Request assistance


Back to Top