Clean Air Asia’s 10th Better Air Quality Conference – Asia’s largest air quality event – kicked off in Kuching, Malaysia, on Wednesday, November 14, with a timely reminder of the need for countries throughout the region to work together to address the critical issue of air pollution.
The BAQ conference, running from November 14-16 and co-organized by the Clean Air Forum Society of Malaysia (MyCAS), Malaysia’s Ministry of National Resources and Environment, and the Natural Resources and Environment Board of Sarawak, is themed “Regional Action, Global Impact”.
The event brings together the world’s most respected air quality specialists, representatives from national and city governments throughout the region, industry experts, and the finest minds in academia in a program that features:
+600 participants from more than 55 countries and 25 cities.
+250 speakers, panelists and presenters.
+45 sessions with more than 200 presentations and moderated discussions.
At the opening session, Clean Air Asia Executive Director Bjarne Pedersen said there was emerging consensus throughout the region of air quality as the big equalizer between the environment, health and climate change.
“We’re starting to grasp the scale of the challenge that lies ahead of us,” he said. “Learning and collaboration among different stakeholders and different regions is needed to harvest solutions and learn.”
Robert O’Keefe, Chair of Clean Air Asia’s Board of Trustees and Vice-President of the Health Effects Institute, said action on air pollution was taking place on many fronts, and compliance and enforcement was becoming increasingly aggressive.
However, he said it would take “sustained commitment in the years ahead from all of us” to achieve substantial reductions in emissions and broader regional air quality gains.
That message was reiterated by Malaysia’s Deputy Minister for Environment, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change, Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis, who said air pollution had become everyone’s problem.
“No government in the world can improve air quality by itself. We need to acknowledge our interdependence – not just in Malaysia but around the world.”
BAQ 2018 is showcasing the pivotal role Asia is playing in air pollution mitigation, highlighting the technical innovations and solutions that are steering the region in more sustainable direction. This is vital as rapid urbanization coupled with continued economic growth is resulting in rising emissions and deteriorating air quality. Faced with worsening air pollution and climate change impacts, it is imperative that the region acts with urgency to decarbonize economies and lifestyles.
The pressing nature of the challenges underscores the need for unity and collaboration in the development of new solutions, designs and approaches that will help Asia chart more sustainable future horizons.