Over 70 per cent of the estimated seven million air pollution-related premature deaths each year occur in Asia and the Pacific, with the majority in low and middle income countries of Southeast Asia and Western Pacific.
At the inaugural session of the UN 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 the 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.
“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,” said Kaveh Zahedi, UNEP Regional Director & Representative for Asia and the Pacific.
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.
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. It will help the countries in the region manage air pollution, bringing with it multiple benefits from improved health, to food and water security, as well as climate change mitigation.