Researchers said on Monday that the pandemic has highlighted the problem associated with air pollution, something that nine in 10 people in the world suffer from.
Grant funding to curb air pollution totaled $273 million from 2015-2019 based on a report released to mark the first International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies.
That is a tiny fraction of the development aid provided by governments and philanthropic organizations — yet devoting more cash to clean air could boost other global goals too, it said.
Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted in a foreword that outdoor air pollution is responsible for more than 4 million deaths each year, but the political will to address the problem is increasing as evidence of the damage becomes clearer.
This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated how the world can pull together when faced with "an existential threat", Ban wrote.
He called for global collaboration and bold leadership to address poor air quality.
"With a strategic and well-resourced approach to cleaning our air, we can improve health, build resilience to future pandemics, boost productivity, reduce health costs, and help tackle climate change," he added.
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, told an online event that lockdowns to curb the virus spread showed "clearer skies are possible", but stopping economies and keeping children at home was not the way forward.