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Panel of speakers discuss global air quality funding

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Blog 17 October 2023

Unlocking funding for clean air: opportunities for multilateral development banks  

On the sidelines of the World Bank Autumn Meetings, our event convened a panel of experts to explore how donors, the private sector and policymakers can better act on air quality funding.

Over 99% of people around the world breathe air that is detrimental to their health. By tackling air pollution, policy makers and donors have a unique opportunity to address several problems simultaneously and advance the sustainable development agenda. Every $1 spent on air pollution control can yield an estimated $30 in economic benefits (US Environmental Protection Agency). Despite this, too many international donors are still overlooking and underfunding projects that address toxic air.

Our latest report, The State of Global Air Quality Funding 2023, found that only 1% of international development funding and 2% of international public climate finance went towards targeting air pollution.

What can the international community do to secure funding for clean air? How can we push for more action to integrate air quality with private and public investment? And how can we drive political will and action towards air quality projects with sustainable development in mind? Our side-event at the World Bank Autumn meetings in Marrakesh last week brought these important questions before experts, policymakers and practitioners in the development, climate and private sector finance. Co-hosted by Development Reimagined, the panel of experts reflected on gaps and opportunities in global air quality funding, including our recommendations for multilateral development banks.

“We can’t have a world without poverty without clean air”, shared Valerie Hickey, Global Director, Environment, Natural Resources and the Blue Economy, of the World Bank. In our new report, the World Bank ranks as the 6th top funder for clean air projects. “In a year’s time, when we meet again, we will have moved up the funder rankings and moved investment into new areas, Latin America and Africa, where we’ll be seeing results”, Valerie committed before highlighting the World Bank’s commitment to clean air as part of the Livable Planet mission to end poverty.

What role should the private sector play in air quality funding? Gregga Baxter, General Manager of the Gulf International Bank, emphasised the importance of keeping it simple:

Sonia Dunlop is the Programme Lead for Public Banks and MDBs at E3G, who work on international financial architecture reform and climate financing packages. She stressed the need for understanding the synergies between climate change and air quality co-benefits to mobilise more funding.

Watch the recording

State of Global Air Quality Funding 2023 report launch and discussion

See more

The State of Global Air Quality Funding 2023

The only global analysis of funding from international development donors to tackle air pollution. We highlight trends and gaps in international aid and public climate finance spending from 2015 to 2021. We also give recommendations for governments, bilateral donors and multilateral development banks to tackle dirty air and climate change together.

4 ways donors can maximise funding for climate, health and economy

New research reveals that international development funding for fossil fuel projects has decreased, but clean air initiatives are still chronically underfunded by donor governments, agencies and development banks. As the World Bank and IMF annual meetings approach, donors and policymakers need to direct more resources to clean air and unlock the co-benefits of climate and health finance for people and planet.