Restoring clean air

Restoring Clean Air in Asia Pacific

6.5 million people die annually from exposure to poor air quality.

70% of air pollution related death occur in Asia Pacific.

Air pollution is the most pressing environmental health crisis in the world.  It is responsible for more than 6.5 million deaths annually, the bulk of which – 70 per cent –  occurs in Asia Pacific. In addition to health hazards, air pollution is a threat to the region’s economy, food and water security, and climate systems. This hampers the region’s efforts to grow sustainably and alleviate poverty.

Improving Air Quality in Asia Pacific

Air pollution is an increasingly important environmental issue in Asia Pacific. The pollution caused by particulate matters (PM10 and PM2.5), sulfur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx), tropospheric ozone (O3) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is a common concern and challenge amongst countries in Asia Pacific with significant effects on human health and the well-being of people, particularly in developing countries. The World Health Organization placed air pollution as the world’s largest single environmental health risk with nearly 7 million deaths per year. Seventy percent of these deaths occur in Asia Pacific. Besides its health impacts, air pollution also poses a threat to the region’s food and water security and climate systems, thereby undermining poverty alleviation and sustainable development in the region.

Many air pollution problems are attributable to energy use. The combustion of fossil fuels is the principal source of air pollution in urban and industrial areas. In rural and some urban areas, the burning of coal and biomass, such as firewood, agricultural wastes and animal wastes, is the principal source of air pollution.

Countries in the region are recognizing the need to address air pollution through strengthening capacity and coordination at the national and regional level. UN Environment works to promote better air quality through capacity building, raising awareness, strengthening cooperation and synergy among air pollution initiatives, facilitating cooperation of intergovernmental air pollution programmes and undertaking assessments on air pollution.

UN Environment supports and facilitates a number of intergovernmental networks and mechanisms like the Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia and the Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership. UN Environment also provides independent analysis of policies at the request of cities and municipalities and undertakes targeted capacity building and advisory services to control and prevent air pollution at the national level. For example, UN Environment supports institutional strengthening for addressing Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) in Bangladesh and Maldives.

Some of UN Environment’s support in the region includes:

Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership

The Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership (APCAP) is an initiative to support countries in the Asia Pacific region to manage air pollution through an integrated approach. Such an approach has the potential to deliver multiple benefits ranging from improved health to food and water security, as well as climate change co-benefits. APCAP is also designed to bring together multiple regional initiatives related to air pollution to provide clear policy options based on the best science, and support action on air pollution across the region.

Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia

The Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia (EANET) is an intergovernmental network on acid deposition issue in East Asia. It aims to create a common understanding on the state of acid deposition problems, to provide useful inputs to policy makers at various levels, and to contribute to cooperation on the issues related to acid deposition among participating countries.  Currently EANET consists of 13 participating countries - the Kingdom of Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Indonesia, Japan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.