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Brussels and Bloomberg Philanthropies Expand Partnership to Tackle Air Pollution

Second phase of Brussels Clean Air Partnership will support robust research and engage local organizations promoting sustainable urban mobility

Brussels and New York Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, and Brussels Environment announced a host of new initiatives to improve air quality for residents throughout Belgium’s capital. This next phase of the Brussels Clean Air Partnership, launched in 2020, alongside Bloomberg Philanthropies’ ongoing work across continental Europe, will support the region’s efforts to tackle air pollution and contribute to achieving the EU’s 2030 climate objectives.

Air pollution is responsible for more than 400,000 premature deaths in Europe each year, including nearly 9,000 in Belgium alone, according to the European Environment Agency. Today’s expansion of this action-oriented partnership builds on Brussels and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ efforts to tackle air pollution, which has helped collect important data on air quality to identify pollution sources and their health impacts. Now, the Clean Air Partnership will provide additional support for academia, civil society, and the public sector to implement a wide range of projects and concrete actions to reduce air pollution and traffic-related greenhouse gas emissions.

“Air pollution kills hundreds of thousands of people across Europe every year,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions and Founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg LP. “By expanding our partnership with the region of Brussels, we will help empower local leaders with the tools they need to target and reduce air pollution, fight climate change, and save lives.”

Alain Maron, Brussels Minister for the Environment and Climate Transition, said: “Air pollution threatens our health and that of our planet. It is our duty to do everything we can so that the people of Brussels can breathe clean air and live in a healthy environment. These are collective solutions, and the uniqueness of our partnership builds upon the contributions of a variety of actors. Thanks to this partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, we are taking concrete action on our mobility to make it more sustainable so that everyone can get around easily without polluting.”

The next phase of the Brussels Clean Air Partnership will support the Capital Region’s efforts to reduce air pollution across several key projects:

  • Creating an incubator for innovation in low-emission urban logistics as part of the Green Deal: The transport of goods in Brussels is mainly done by road, with a consequent negative impact on the environment and health. Every day, 16,000 trucks and 26,000 delivery vans travel through Brussels. While freight transport represents only 17% of traffic, it is responsible for 28% of PM2.5, 34% of NOx emissions, and about 25% of traffic-related CO2 emissions. As part of the Brussels Region’s Green Deal, launched last week, the VUB and its Mobilise Research Group will create an incubator for pilot projects to reduce emissions from the logistics sector. 
  • Supporting urban actions to improve air quality: Les Chercheurs d’Air, Pro-vélo, and other organizations will implement school streets and trainings to educate and create awareness on urban mobility and cycling in schools and densely populated neighborhoods. 
  • Measuring the impact of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) on public health: Mutualités Libres, in partnership with KU Leuven, a renowned university with a long tradition of research, Health and Environment Alliance, and VITO, an independent research organization in the field of cleantech and sustainable development, will quantify the impact of the LEZ on air quality and public health. The study will focus on Brussels and the cities of Antwerp and Ghent.
  • Developing an air quality modeling tool: Building on the data collected and tested in the Clean Air Partnership’s first phase, the Catholic University of Leuven will develop new real-time modeling to forecast and map NO2 levels. As a result, this will lead to the development of a tool to model air quality implications for the redevelopment of public spaces.

Cathy Macharis, Professor at the VUB and coordinator of the Mobilise Research Group, said: “Freight transport costs 60,000 euros every day to the public health system. Children and elderly people are the most affected by air pollution from freight transport in Brussels. Companies are already doing a lot. We see this among the pioneers of “Green Deal Logistics.” With Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support, we can give further impetus to innovative collaborations that can significantly reduce the impact of logistics on our health.”

In the first phase of the Clean Air Partnership, 60 schools and 3,000 residents and organizations measured air quality in neighborhoods throughout Brussels. The results showed that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for air pollution were exceeded in many neighborhoods, especially in the city center and densely populated areas. Real emissions from more than 130,000 vehicles in traffic were also measured, clearly showing that the concentrations of pollutants emitted are much higher in traffic than in the laboratory – with nitrogen oxide emissions measuring up to five times higher than the certification limits. Additionally, trainings were organized to educate teachers on air quality issues and enable them to address the topic in their classrooms.

This announcement builds on Bloomberg Philanthropies’ efforts to support cities to reduce air pollution, fight climate change, and ensure better, longer lives for communities. Bloomberg Philanthropies also partners with Jakarta, London, Milan, Paris, Warsaw, and other governments around the world to make a difference in the fight against air pollution.


About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed US$ 1.7 billion. For more information, please visit, sign up for our newsletter,  or follow us on  Facebook,  Instagram,  YouTube,  Twitter, and LinkedIn.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Global Clean Air Program:
Bloomberg Philanthropies leads the world’s most ambitious clean air effort that aims to improve air quality through support for pilot projects in cities, as well as partnerships with national governments and organizations. This includes initiatives in Brussels, Jakarta, London, Milan, Paris, Warsaw, and other governments around the world.

About the Brussels-Capital Region:
Like the two other Belgian regions (Wallonia and Flanders), the Brussels-Capital Region is the competent authority for urban development, housing, public works, mobility, economy, foreign trade, employment, environment, energy, local authorities, scientific research and international relations. Its Minister-President is Rudi Vervoort. Its Minister of Climate Transition, Environment and Energy is Alain Maron, which you can follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin.

Bruxelles Environnement is the administration in charge of environment and energy in the Brussels-Capital Region.

Media Contacts:
Bloomberg Philanthropies
Marshall Cohen –; +1 646 819 2611

Brussels Environment
Simon Vandamme, spokesman Minister of the Brussels-Capital Region in charge of Environment and Climate Transition, Alain Maron
+32 479 66 03 23