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September 9, 2020

‘Planning response must to overcome growing pollution’

Islamabad

September 9, 2020

Islamabad : The growing air pollution in the densely-populated Asia Pacific region has emerged as a major health challenge, causing damaging impacts on the environment, public health and agricultural crop yields. However, tackling these adverse impacts, which have led to unprecedented economic consequences, affecting economic growth as well as welfare, are not possible without a coordinated policy and planning measures at the regional level.

This was stated by global experts on air pollution, environment and climate change in an online international dialogue on ‘Regional Conversation on Air Pollution in Asia-Pacific’ held on Tuesday as a part of the commemoration of the 1st International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, which was celebrated all over the world on September 7. The Day aims to raise public awareness at all levels—individual, community, corporate and government—that clean air is important for health, productivity, the economy and the environment.

The online international dialogue was organised jointly by the United Nations Environment Programme and United Nations Economic and Social Council. Addressing the event, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, said that air pollution in Asia-Pacific, of which over 40 per cent comes from the transport sector, continues to affect nearly entire over four billion population of the region, posing a grave risk to the initiatives aimed at boosting socio-economic growth, food security and addressing health, malnutrition, health, education, environment and climate change issues.

“While the air pollution is now the gravest of the all challenges facing the Asia Pacific region, it cannot be overcome without enhanced and well-coordinated regional response through viable policies and actions,” emphasised. He said further that air pollution is very much a cross-border issue in many Asia-Pacific and South Asian countries, where inhabitants share the same air mass. But, since it has become highly contaminated due to unsustainable production and consumption patterns in countries of both of the regions, affecting population in other countries of the region, tapping potential benefits of cross-border efforts in Asia-Pacific and South Asian regions to mitigate air pollutions is key, Malik Amin Aslam underlined. “Keeping in view the regional and global nature of sources and causes of air pollution, it can only be effectively tackled if we work together." the prime minister’s advisor Malik Amin Aslam said.

Ban Ki-Moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations said during his keynote address to the event that with extreme air pollution events on the rise in the world, particularly in Asia-Pacific and South Asia regions, there is pressing need for joint action at the global and regional scales to mitigate pollution and its fallouts, has received an advocacy and public awareness boost when, for the first time ever, the world marked the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies on 7 September.

Lee Wook-heon, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Thailand, said that 99 percent of the Asia-Pacific is exposed to polluted air causing an estimated half of the ]seven million premature deaths caused due to air pollution every year.

“Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental threats to the right to health today, being responsible for 7 million premature deaths each year. Air pollutants also contribute directly to the climate crisis, endangering health and livelihoods of generations current and future,” he told the participants of the online international dialogue.

Others who also spoke on the occasion included Executive Secretary of ESCAP Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Assistant Secretary-General of United Nations Environment Programme Satya Tripathi and Director of International Relations and Special Projects at Sustainable Energy for All Glenn Pearce-Oroz.