The UN Environment invited the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development – nrg4SD – to partner up and participate in its BreatheLife Campaign, a call for action to address the air pollution crisis. The BreatheLife Campaign was launched in response to that urgent global challenge, which leads to an estimated 6.5 million of deaths annually. Indeed, air pollution causes one in nine deaths worldwide, standing as the largest environmental health risk of our time.

The BreatheLife Campaign, was launched in October 2016 by UN Environment together with the World Health Organization and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. It aims to mobilize subnational governments and individuals from all around the world to take action and set air quality targets, while improving public health and slowing the rate of climate change. The BreatheLife Campaign  also engages with citizens, by informing them about the actions they can take, thus building public support in cities and regional governments to reduce air pollution and to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

BreatheLife will drive a global movement for action:

  • Inspiring a concerted effort to reduce air pollution, climate change and related health risks and diseases;
  • Influence policy and action by governments and citizens;
  • Galvanizing and celebrating action at all levels and sectors, while offering solutions to prevent and reduce pollution;
  • Sharing information on the state of air pollution and data from varied cities and regions.

The BreatheLife Campaign offers global visibility and networks to cities and regions to communicate and showcase success, learn from peer cities and receive support from experts in the health and environment sectors. Implementing the campaign locally helps regions to align policy with public support targets. It provides support through the exchange of communication strategies and guidance, roll-out of local awareness rising campaigns and citizen specific behavior objectives that bring policy implementation to success.

Through this campaign, major sources of air pollution can be addressed providing information on the state of air pollution with data from over 3,000 locations and offering solutions to prevent and reduce pollution from key sources of air pollution:

  1. Mobility: inefficient vehicles, dirty fuels and poorly organized modes of transport.
  2. Energy: energy-inefficient buildings and housing, cooking and heating using dirty fuels or poor combustion technologies; inefficient modes of power production using heavily polluting fuels.
  3. Waste: poorly managed waste and burning of waste.
  4. Industries: poor licensing and pollution control; use of inefficient motors and boilers; or use of inappropriate materials for heat production.

nrg4SD – The first regional government network to collaborate in BreatheLife

The nrg4SD works in the fields of sustainable development, biodiversity and climate change. Within the latter, nrg4SD concentrate efforts in adaptation, especially through its flagship initiative RegionsAdapt.

The fields of action of the BreatheLife Campaign – air quality and pollution – are complementary to the nrg4SD main thematic priorities. Certainly, air pollution can put additional pressure to the already existing impacts of climate change, and thus require action to reduce vulnerabilities and increase territorial resilience. Poor air quality has negative effects for sustainable development and the climate, e.g. by reducing crop yields, compromising food security, and damaging human health. Reducing the number of deaths and illness from air pollution is also a target within the Sustainable Development Goals.

The nrg4SD recognizes the importance of regional governments contributions to the United Nations Environment Assembly – UNEA and offers its members the possibility to showcase and attain greater visibility to their efforts, also in air quality.

In addition, the nrg4SD is accredited to UN Environment since 2009, and thus has actively participated and contributed to all UNEA previous meetings. This year, the UNEA3 will be held on 4-6 December, under the theme “Towards a Pollution-Free Planet”. In this regard, the BreatheLife Campaign can also be considered a good opportunity to gather and mobilize members’ position and practices to be presented during the meeting of UNEA3.

How to join the Campaign

If your region or association of regions is interested in joining the BreatheLife Campaign, please submit the below information to Thais Ferraz – with cc to Mayra García –

  1. A questionnaire (below) filled-in with information about your territorial context, air quality priorities, targets and action plans.
  2. A formal letter to confirm the region’s commitments and intended actions to reduce air pollution.
  3. Launch of the campaign in the region with a public announcement, a press release, or by organizing events with stakeholders engagement.


The UN Environment will provide visibility and support to regional governments joining the BreatheLife Campaign. Additionally, members will receive:

  1. A customized logo to brand local campaign and activities.
  2. A dedicated webpage on announcing your air quality targets
  3. Participation in training, workshops, webinars and events
  4. Technical support by UN Environment and Climate and Clean Air Coalition

BreatheLife Regions


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