According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly the entire global population (99%) breathes air that exceeds WHO standards and contains major pollutants, with the greatest exposure occurring in low- and middle-income nations. To achieve sustainable global development, intensive measures to decrease exposure to environmental contamination will be required. Despite criticism that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) had too many targets and were not prioritised, air pollution was deemphasised in the SDGs. Consequently, the status of air pollution within the SDGs is ambiguous. The SDGs do not contain a primary aim related to air pollution. Three objectives directly mention air pollution: health (SDG3), clean energy (SDG7), and cities (SDG11); however, these goals also address other concerns. Therefore, air pollution is mentioned directly in one relevant purpose and indirectly in another.
SDG target 3.9.1, which advocates for a significant decrease in air pollution-related deaths and illnesses; SDG target 7.1.2, which aims to ensure residential access to clean energy; and SDG target 11.6.2, which seeks to lessen the environmental impact of urban areas by improving air quality, are examples of targets related to indoor and outdoor air pollution. The gaps in the SDGs related to air pollution were demonstrated in this presentation using a functional view of the SDGs. Most SDGs are connected to air pollution in terms of its origins (energy, industry, and transportation), how it is measured, and effects like harm to the environment and human health. The community concerned about air pollution may want to consider a stronger connection between its SDGs and collaboration methods. Either direct collaboration between air pollution and SDG frameworks or solitary analysis and activities could be used to achieve this.
Adaptation or mitigation? This is the issue governments and corporations worldwide must answer as the effects of climate change and pollution become increasingly apparent. It turns out that both will be necessary. Adaptation is less certain and more expensive than mitigation. However, adaptability is the only option if there is no will to mitigate. The longer we allow pollution to be freely emitted, the fewer and more costly our options will become. Mitigation and adaptation are the two primary approaches to combat the ever-increasing pollution contaminating our air. Mitigation entails preventing the problem before it occurs by reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere. This can be accomplished by replacing damaging fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy sources in line with SDGs key.
Unfortunately, although mitigating pollution before it becomes a problem is ideal, it is not always possible. Even today, air pollution poses a grave threat to the nation's health and ecosystem, and although solutions are being debated, efforts to reduce carbon emissions would necessitate a radical shift in national policy. While public policy plays a vital role in reducing air pollution, personal actions can also minimise exposure. Clearly, addressing such severe air pollution is a continuing problem that will require years of investment to resolve. In the interim, adaptive options (such as cleaner energy and behaviour modification) may serve as a viable stopgap. In addition, the public must be equipped with techniques to mitigate the impacts of air pollution on respiratory health, but there is an unmet demand to provide communities with education and support on how to reduce their exposure to dangerous levels of air pollution.
A key shortcoming of the SDGs' perspective on air pollution is that it may be excessively urban-centric. Certainly, urban air pollution is a priority, particularly in Asian megacities, but this misses the broader nature of the issue. Both indoor and outdoor air pollution in rural locations negatively impact public health. Additionally, air pollution transcends national boundaries and is becoming increasingly regional and hemispheric. Although the SDGs have already been determined, the air pollution community still has the chance to influence and contribute to their future implementation. In addition to attempts to raise the profile of air pollution directly, the SDGs give the air pollution community a chance to get more active in policy-related activities.
Current high air pollution levels are further proof that our unsustainable lifestyles are one of the key obstacles that must be overcome to create a more equitable and habitable society, which is the ultimate goal of the SDGs. Reducing air pollution alone will not, obviously, achieve the other SDGs' goals. However, it exemplifies how a multidisciplinary approach to a measurable and technologically attainable topic can speed up the completion of further goals.
Date of Input: 07/02/2023 | Updated: 07/02/2023 | masridien