Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series.  Click here to read yesterday’s post on the risks of cooking with inefficient cookstoves and fuels.

Here’s a fact you may not know: 4 million people lose their lives each year from the simple act of cooking a meal. That’s because 3 billion people burn solid fuels such as wood and charcoal for their daily cooking needs. The resulting smoke causes a range of respiratory, cardiovascular, eye, and skin ailments that kill millions and sicken tens of millions more.

Cooking in such a manner also increases global deforestation, emits harmful particles into the atmosphere, and puts women and children at risk of attack or injury when they collect fuel.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is a public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment by creating a global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions.

Such an ambitious effort will require a range of short- and long-term solutions. Here are five priorities:

1.      Research

Research needs to be strengthened to further drive investments and solutions into the global clean cooking sector. The link between child survival and cookstoves is perhaps one of the most urgent: About half of child deaths from pneumonia – the greatest killer of children ages 0-5 – are from household air pollution exposure. That’s why the first study that the Alliance commissioned was to better understand clean cooking interventions and their impact on child health.

Photo credit: Ben West – Kids next to smoking stove in Haiti

2.      Standards 

Your car, your household appliances – namely, almost all the products you use each day were made with international or national standards in mind. Until recently, there were no international standards for cookstoves. The Alliance is changing that by working with the International Organization of Standardization to define and promote cookstove cleanliness, efficiency, safety, and more.

Photo credit: Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (Kenya)

3.      Partnerships

The power of partnerships is revolutionizing the way international development projects are implemented and executed. From the Alliance’s start, we were a public-private partnership. When Secretary Clinton launched the Alliance in 2010, we were a mix of 19 governments, companies, NGOs, multilateral agencies, and others. Today, we’re more than 700 entities across 6 continents…and growing!

 Photo credit: Peru Forum – PCIA

4.      Job creation

Clean cookstoves and fuels have the potential to transform human and planetary health. They can also create jobs and sustain livelihoods, particularly for stove users, who in developing countries are by and large women. We’ve commissioned research on this topic, and are currently compiling the data to underscore the job creation potential inherent in a global cookstoves and fuels market.

Photo credit: SE Asia –  SNV

5.      Raising your voice

Hillary Clinton. Julia Roberts. José Andrés. Kofi Annan. Some of the world’s most influential people are part of the Alliance and lending their names, voices, and time to combat household air pollution. Like us, they too believe that cooking shouldn’t kill. If you agree, join us and help us ensure that we reach our goal of 100 million households adopting clean cookstoves and fuels by the year 2020.

Photo credit: Julia Roberts and Hilary Clinton – State Department