Closing Plenary Remarks Integrated Conference on Better Air Quality (BAQ) 2014 and Intergovernmental 8th Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST)

BJARNE PEDERSEN
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, Clean Air Asia
Ladies, gentlemen, colleagues

The theme of this conference was Next Generation Solutions for Clean Air and Sustainable Transport − Towards a Livable Society in Asia

As we look at the conference and the outcomes it is important to remember why we are here–the basics:

The challenge we face:

Ambient air pollution, especially particulate matter (PM), account for well over 3 million premature deaths a year, of which fully two-thirds, are in developing Asia. And this is not mentioning the lost quality of lives and suffering from loss of quality of life for those affected and their families.

If we want to put this in economic cost a to the air pollution it canada pharmacy | cialis dosage | canadian pharmacy viagra is staggering. USD 3.5 trillion a year in premature deaths and ill health  – a and the costs will rise without government action to limit vehicle emissions, according to the OECD.

Our solutions:

There was a number of solutions showcased and debated at the conference – technologies, changes in policies and practices, communications and the need for behavioural change (of both citizens, practitioners and policy makers). Three examples (from statement):

  1. Cost effective approaches and win-win solutions to address the sources of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., short-lived climate pollutants or SLCPs)
  2. Exploitation of the new generation of mobile telephony, which includes Apps and social  media, to foster awareness, behaviour change and citizen science
  3. It is possible for cities to lower air pollution levels whilst enjoying economic growth, motorization, and urbanization. Colombo is one such city. In the period of 2005 to 2014, it enjoyed 3-folds increase in motor vehicle numbers, 4-folds increase in GDP per capita yet PM levels decreased during the same period.

But as one slightly agitated delegate told me: We know the problem, we know a lot of solutions, we have done a lot of pilots,, we have new technologies and we have mature technologies. But now it is time to move from pilots to mainstreaming the solutions – this requires investment, political will and communication/mobilisation of key stakeholders/change makers – and our citizens. As well as rolling out the newest mitigation technologies.

And he added – let’s remember why we are doing this; The lives lost prematurely, other health impacts, effects of climate change on us all – and degradation of the environment.

Moving forward:

Since the BAQ started 12 years ago, much has been done to help improve the situation of air quality in Asia and it emerged from the conference that there are new opportunities to help and address the issue of bad air quality.

And the outcomes of the conference signals another step forward in combating the challenges of bad air quality and its health impacts, as well as climate change. But it is equally clear that more work needs to be done – we must not rest on our achievements and slow the acceleration in implementation and change needed – and in mainstreaming solutions as I mentioned.

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And this is in many ways where the BAQ and this integrated conference have its force and strengths.  It brings our community and stakeholders together, re-energizing us and sets a focus for moving forward.

Certainly Clean Air Asia always becomes invigorated organizing the BAQ conferences and this integrated conference. Inspired by the conference, we at Clean Air Asia are determined to work even more focused and effective for people’s rights to better air quality and livable cities across Asia.

After all healthier air goes hand in hand with building strong partnerships across Asia (and the world) for change.