1,000 delegates attend 2014 Better Air Quality conference in Colombo

The 2014 Integrated Conference of Better Air Quality (BAQ) and the 8th Intergovernmental Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Forum is the biggest gathering yet of clean air and sustainable transport advocates working towards more liveable cities in the region.

More than 1,000 delegates from 50 countries are coming to Colombo to attend the three day conference from 19 to 21 November 2014. The event takes place at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike International Convention Centre.

This year’s conference theme is Next Generation Solutions for Clean Air and Sustainable Transport - Towards a Livable Society in Asia.”

Organized by Clean Air Asia, the United Nations (UN) Center for Regional Development, and the Sri Lanka government, the high policy forum will help provide leaders with a strategic platform to discuss air pollution, transport, and climate change solutions across Asia.

According to the World Health Organization 7 out of 10 cities have unhealthy levels of air pollution, exposing residents to significant public health risk.

In Colombo, the transport sector alone accounts for 60 percent of the country’s air pollution as the country doubled its vehicles to 4.2 million in just two decades, says Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksam, this year’s guest of honor.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nikhil Seth, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) is delivering the plenary keynote address.

“The bottom line on air pollution is that it has become the world’s single most dangerous environmental and health risk. It is upon us to reverse this trend of negative health impacts. The Better Air Quality (BAQ) Conference has always operated on outcomes of rapid, impactful action. I am confident and excited about the real change we can achieve,” said Clean Air Asia’s Chair of Board of Trustees, Mr. Robert O’Keefe, who is delivering the plenary’s opening remarks.

“The BAQ serves as a reinvigoration of the region’s commitment to liveable cities and the pursuit of better air quality for all citizens. At the end of the day, the BAQ will result in real action by cities to fight air pollution from the ground up,” says Bjarne Pedersen, executive director of Clean Air Asia.

Other plenary speakers include: Mr. B.M.U.D. Basnayake, Secretary of the Ministry of Enviornment and Renewable Energy of Sri Lanka; Mr. Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Environment and Renewable Energy of Sri Lanka; Mr Don Jayaweera, Clean Air Sri Lanka CEO; and Mr Nikhil Seth, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Attending the closing plenary session on the third day are Mr. Kumara Welgama, Minister of Transport of Sri Lanka;Mr. Bjarne Pedersen, Executive Director of Clean Air Asia; and Mr. Chikako Takase, United Nations Centre for Regional Development Director.

The event is co-organized by the Ministry of Transport of Sri Lanka, The Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy of Sri Lanka, Ministry of the Environment of Japan, United Nations Centre for Regional Development, and Clean Air Asia, in partnership with the Asian Development Bank, German International Cooperation (GIZ), and World Bank.

Follow the BAQ Newsroom: http://baq2014.org/newsroom/

Follow the LearnTV livestream: http://learntv.lk/stream1.html

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