40 years of cooperation and counting with UNECE Air Convention: Ministers and high-level representatives renew commitment to tackle air pollution

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When 32 Member States signed the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution in 1979, it was not evident that it would develop into a successful regional framework for controlling and reducing the damage to human health and the environment caused by transboundary air pollution. 

Yet, the achievements of the Convention in the UNECE region over the last 4 decades have been no less than remarkable: air pollution trends and economic growth have been decoupled. Emissions of harmful substances including particulate matter and sulphur have been cut by 30-80% since 1990 in Europe and 30-40% in North America. This has led to healthier forest soils and lakes. In Europe, these measures account for 1 additional year of life expectancy and prevent 600,000 premature deaths annually.

To celebrate 40 years of successful cooperation under the Convention, Parties to the Convention, partners and countries outside the UNECE region assembled in Geneva, Switzerland, on 11 and 12 December, for a Special Anniversary Session, which was held as part of the 39th session of the Executive Body for the Convention (9-13 December 2019).

At the session, Ministers and high-level representatives from over 50 countries acknowledged milestones under the Convention, praised progress in the region, and discussed visions for future development of the Convention. Participants recognized that the Convention will remain a critical instrument of international environmental cooperation, within and outside the UNECE region.

Participants also showcased recent developments in their countries and shared experiences and lessons learned, while at the same time recognizing that some challenges still exist to implement the Convention, for which further support is needed.



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