The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Japan have announced a new partnership to tackle air pollution in Asia and the Pacific with 70 per cent of the estimated seven million air pollution-related premature deaths each year occurring in the region.
The Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership is an initiative launched by the UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in cooperation with Japan’s Ministry of Environment and will bring together multiple regional initiatives to provide clear policy options to support action on air pollution across the region.
At the inaugural session of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) last month attended by over 100 ministers and vice ministers, air pollution was identified as top priority that requires immediate action by the international community and global governments.
The adopted Resolution on air pollution calls governments to formulate action plans, establish and implement nationally determined ambient air quality standards, and to establish emissions standards for their significant sources of air pollution.
Kaveh Zahedi, UNEP Regional Director & Representative for Asia and the Pacific.said: “Environmental problems caused by unrestrained growth are becoming so severe that they are threatening to diminish development gains. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than with air pollution and the serious health and economic costs it is imposing on the people of this region.”
A Joint Forum will also be established comprising of various initiatives on air pollution to provide a platform for sharing latest scientific data, internationally agreed guidelines and relevant information on atmospheric science to assist policy makers in setting targets to improve air quality in the region.
Some of the world’s most polluted cities are in the Asia and Pacific region and particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5), which is considered as the most harmful to health, is four times higher than the safe limit (25 microgram per cubic meter) in certain areas.
A science panel will be established as part of the partnership to develop a science-policy synthesis report on air pollution with data segregated at sub-regional, and regional levels.
Mr. Shinji Inoue, Senior Vice Minister, Ministry of Environment Japan said: “Japan has been supporting air pollution related networks and science research for many years. Through this partnership we hope to encourage greater collaboration between the many regional initiatives and support information exchange between scientists throughout the region.”
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