Asia Pacific Countries Meet to Tackle Air Pollution

High-level government officials from more than 20 Asia Pacific countries, atmospheric scientists and experts and international organizations will come together in Bangkok for a week of meetings and events focusing on tackling the growing air pollution challenge which is increasingly threatening public health in the region. More than 120 participants, including foremost experts in Asia Pacific working on air pollution, are attending the 23-27 November Asia Pacific Clean Air Week organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners.

Air pollution is a major threat to public health and well-being in Asia Pacific where it has become an inescapable reality of urban life in many countries. According to the World Health Organisation, worldwide some 7 million people globally die prematurely every year as a result of indoor and outdoor air pollution, some 5 million of which are in Asia Pacific.

Air pollution also poses a threat to the food and water security and climate system. Pollutants such as ground level ozone or smog and sulfur oxides damage crops and ecosystems while black carbon is a major contributor to accelerated melting of snowpack and glaciers.

“The impacts of air pollution are staggering – millions of people in our region are dying unnecessarily each year, economic costs are in the trillions undermining sustainable development aspirations of countries and communities. The haze in Indonesia and the multiple air pollution emergencies in cities across our region have brought home how devastating the health, human and environmental costs of air pollution can be. Bringing together those at the front line of policy making and science is an essential step to promote coordinated, durable and effective actions to improve air quality and with it the lives of people in Asia Pacific,” said Kaveh Zahedi, UNEP Regional Director and Representative for Asia and the Pacific.

Meetings that will take place during the week include the Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership (APCAP) Joint Forum and its Science Panel to share progress on air pollution control and identify innovative solutions that can quickly be scaled up across the region. The Asia Pacific Clean Air Week also includes the meetings of regional initiatives like the East Asia Network on Acid Deposition, the Malé Declaration on Transboundary Air Pollution for South Asia, and the Atmospheric Brown Cloud Initiative to share information and develop a joint regional programme to tackle air pollution.