Inspirational anthem for clean air movement

On the International Day for Clean Air and Blue Skies, AirQualityAsia, a UN-based global advocacy group, on Wednesday released an inspirational anthem for the clean air movement for one of the most polluted hotspots on the planet — South Asia.

The anthem, titled ‘SaafHawa’, is linked to the UN BreatheLife campaign and reaches out to the wider South Asian citizens through evocative lyrics and music by some of the region’s most celebrated music artists.

“Climate change is real. Having travelled on many of my adventures in the Himalayas I see the change. That’s why ‘SaafHawa’ is a very important campaign. It’s a clarion call to make everyone aware that clean air is our fundamental right. I am glad I could contribute to ‘SaafHawa’ by creating this song,” said Shantanu Moitra, the music composer and producer of the song.

Zeb Bangash is lead vocalist, Mir Ali Husain is lyricist, Layth Sidiq added violin and strings.

The song’s lyrics also touch upon this year’s theme for the day — the air we share. Home to over 1.85 billion people, South Asia is the world’s most populated region, comprising middle and lower-middle income countries with similar pollution sources that share a regional air-shed.

While air quality management is addressed within the geographical boundaries of cities and countries, impacts of global warming are acutely affecting the entire region with increasing heatwaves, devastating floods, cyclones.

South Asia’s common challenge to tackle high emissions to reduce both air pollution and climate change are shared problems that require shared solutions.

These efforts must extend beyond the fight for clean air, feel the artists. “With the disastrous floods in my country, clearly climate change presents a future of consequences to be borne by our children. ‘Saafhawa’ is a heartfelt ode to Clean Air written and rendered as a love song. I am extremely happy that I could be the voice for ‘Saafhawa’,” said Bangash.

Through the song, the artists have termed clean air as a birthright. “Artists are ambassadors for positive change, and I hope that this song will bring that positive change,” said Sidiq.

The idea was born out of inspiration from other global environment movements.

Shazia Rafi, Convener, AirQualityAsia said” “For governments to take the painful steps to rolling back a pollution-based industrial model, civic momentum is essential. I thought of US environmental movement; the music of Joni Mitchell, John Denver that galvanized the nation leading to the 1970s Clean Air Act; a strong EPA. From that the idea of ‘Saafhawa’ was born.”

The song can be accessed at www.vimeo.com/saafhawa. A video for the anthem will be released ahead of the COP27 to be held later in the year.

On November 26, 2019, the Second Committee of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution designating September 7 as the “International Day of Clean Air for blue skies”.

The resolution stresses the importance of, and urgent need to, raise public awareness at all levels and to promote and facilitate actions to improve air quality.

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