New Delhi, December 7: Our right to life is underlined by our ability to breathe clean air and there is no alternative. This was said by UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Dia Mirza at the opening of a high-level side event about air pollution at the Third UN Environment Assembly. On the occasion, Dia Mirza also spoke about the impact of air pollution on people in India and the need to find solutions to improve air quality.
Highlighting her own nephew who is seven years old, Dia Mirza said, “My nephew is 7 years old and attends a Private School in New Delhi, which is the capital of my beautiful country India. But for the third year in a row, this very school declared unscheduled holidays as a result of Air Pollution as the Air Particulate Matter (PM2.5) had reached hazardous levels in many parts of the city.”
“My nephew stayed at home, wore a mask all day and was forbidden from going to the neighborhood park where he usually plays soccer with his friends every evening. He will now wait to be told by his parents, when it may be safe to go out and play again,” she added.
The UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador also said, “In stark contrast to my nephew, Delhi is inhabited by over 51,000 children living in street situations. Oblivious to the hazardous air quality, these children believe that fighting the cold winter is their primary challenge to survival. Little do they know that there is also a silent killer that they cannot fight.”
Dia said, “Our right to life is underlined by our ability to breathe clean air. Period. There is no alternative.” “To bring change, we must each commit to transform our way of living and help in every way possible to beat pollution, starting with our own everyday consumption and understanding. I have personally introduced new waste management systems in my cooperative society. We segregate waste, we compost and we are now what is called in Mumbai a zero-waste co-op,” Dia added.
Stressing upon the cleanliness, Dia said, “In my own everyday life, I have tried to identify every item of plastic that I can refuse, starting with my toothbrush, replacing a plastic one with bamboo. I refuse to buy packaged water and always carry my own water from home in glass or metal bottles. So much so that on my trip to Nairobi, in my suitcase were two large metal bottles, which I have been refilling in the kitchen at my hotel.”
“I have replaced regular sanitary napkins with napkins that are made of natural fibers and that are 100% biodegradable. I also refuse to use plastic cutlery and plastic bags, and I always keep a cloth bag handy,” a veteran Bollywood actress said.
I am a big believer that people will make better choices when they have access to information. The most imperative thing that governments can do is to make that information available to all citizens so that we can empower them to live sustainably.
Emphasizing on the future, Dia Mirza stated that it is a time for us to choose a future that is not plagued by ill health. “If we come together, I am confident that we can make the sky blue again,” Dia said quoting because we all have the right to Breathe Life.