Many Asian cities are rapidly urbanizing and confronted with various urban challenges. One major challenge, which is interlinked with multiple sectors such as transport and urban energy generation is air pollution.
According to the World Health Organization, air pollution now accounts for more than 7 million premature deaths globally each year. Given the magnitude of the health impacts, there is a pressing call for action by the international community. Solutions to air pollution are particularly important at the city level, where the impacts are directly felt and where the main sources of pollution are often found. Seven out of ten cities in developing Asian countries have unhealthy levels of air pollution (CAA, 2016). As the share of urban population is projected to increase in almost all countries in Asia an integrated air quality management approach is necessary to address the challenges linked to air pollution.
Recognizing the scale and urgency of the issue, the two international air-quality meetings – the 17th World Clean Air Congress (WCAC) and the 9th Better Air Quality Conference (BAQ) – were jointly held from 29 August to 2 September in Busan, Korea. The event’s theme was “Clean Air for Cities – Perspectives and Solutions”. Upon Invitation by Clean Air Asia (CAA), CityNet Program Officer Felix Kalkowsky attended the event and participated in CAA’s advisory group meeting on clean air certification as well as in the third advisory group meeting for the Integrated Programme for Better Air Quality in Asia.
Furthermore, Felix Kalkowsky delivered a presentation on good examples of city-to-city cooperation and CityNet Services at the pre-event Mainstreaming Air Quality in Urban Development through South-South Twinning. The event served as a workshop for Asian Development Bank’s Technical Assistance (TA) 8751 “Mainstreaming Air Quality in Urban Development through South-South Twinning” that aims to address challenges of air quality management (AQM) in Asian cities by promoting long term-planning and identifying strategies for South-South twinning to facilitate sharing and learning of good urban AQM practices in Asia. Representatives from NGOs and governments from China and India participated in the session, which brought cities together to share their current AQM challenges, needs, and good practices.
The interactive networking workshop Fostering City-to-City Cooperation, organized by United States Environment Protection Agency (US EPA) and chaired by CAA and C40 Cities, enabled participants to share experience in developing successful partnerships and to identify key areas for future cooperation with a particular focus on how cities can best meet both air quality and climate change objectives.
Together with representatives from international organizations, local governments such as Malang (Indonesia), Santa Rosa (Philippines), Peshawar (Pakistan) and CityNet members Kathmandu (Nepal), Cebu and Baguio (Philippines), Felix Kalkowsky discussed challenges and solutions in regard AQM. City-to-city cooperation encourages cities to take collective actions and is part of CityNet’s core activities – particularly throughout the recently re-launched programme CityNet Services.