Nine countries from the West Africa subregion met on 3 – 5 October 2018 to discuss progress towards the implementation of the 2009 Better Air Quality regional agreement, as well as propose additional actions to improve air quality in the subregion. The meeting was opened by the Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development Joseph Seka Seka, who mentioned the 2017 UN Environment Assembly theme “Pollution Free Planet” as setting good ground for the meeting. In addition to the country representatives, the meeting was attended by representatives of UN Environment, Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission and Stockholm Environment Institute.
UN Environment was represented by Jane Akumu and Abdouraman Bary who presented the global and regional perspective of air quality activities based on the UN Environment Assembly resolutions, and specific progress made in the region to introduce cleaner transport policies. Bernard Koffi of the Economic Community of West African States Commission spoke of the commitment of the regional economic commission to support countries in the region to tackle air pollution, a major health challenge. He asked participants to develop an actionable and concrete road map to support long term improvements in air quality in the subregion. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition representative, Kouadio N'Goran, welcomed the cooperation with countries in the subregion to address short-lived climate pollutants.
Participants were updated on the progress made on the implementation of the 2009 Abidjan Agreement on Better Air Quality. Gaps and constraints to implementation of the agreement were also identified. A road map, outlining priority areas by sector for the next five years (2019 – 2023) to further improve air quality in the west Africa subregion was developed. It was further proposed that:
- The road map be finalized and translated into French and English
- A communication strategy that will link key Economic Community of West African States priorities such as climate change and education be developed
- Member states nominate a focal point to spearhead the implementation of the identified priority areas while at the same time integrating such activities with in-country initiatives
It was also noted that the region needed to invest more in research on impacts and costs of inaction to inform decision makers at highest political levels of the benefit of instituting policies and projects to improve air quality. A follow-up meeting is planned in November 2019 to discuss progress as well as operationalize the road map.