In a first for the country, Malaysia has been confirmed as the host of Clean Air Asia’s 10th Better Air Quality (BAQ) Conference in 2018.
The signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on September 14 with next year’s co-organizer, the Clean Air Forum Society of Malaysia (MyCAS), officially kicked off the preparations for Asia’s largest and most prestigious air quality gathering, to be held in Kuching City, Sarawak, from November 12-16.
Together, Clean Air Asia and MyCAS will convene the biennial event at the Sarawak Convention and Exhibition Centre, where at least 600 policymakers, practitioners and industry leaders will gather to develop solutions for cleaner air and livable cities.
The MoU signing by MyCAS President Dr Noor Zaitun Yahaya and Clean Air Asia Executive Director Bjarne Pedersen at the Universiti Malaya in Kuala Lumpur was witnessed by Peter Sawal of the Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board, and Zamzul Rizal Bin Zulkifli from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Department of Environment, representing the key government agencies that supported MyCAS’s bid to host BAQ 2018. It comes at a pivotal time for the Asia region.
“With air quality in the region continuing to worsen, it is with a sense of great urgency that we announce the convening of BAQ 2018,” said Clean Air Asia Executive Director Bjarne Pedersen. “Collectively, we stand at a critical juncture. Air pollution is now recognized as a public health crisis, linked to 6.5 million premature deaths per year, with Asia bearing the brunt of the mortalities.
“Immediate transformative action and technological innovation is needed to hold global average temperature rise to below 2°C on pre-industrial levels, as stipulated in the Paris Agreement, and to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Mr Pedersen said Malaysia played an important role in this regard, and was taking concrete steps to improve air quality and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The country had ambitious plans to decarbonize the transport sector, with electric vehicles and charging stations to be in place by 2030 as part of the National Green Technology Master Plan and the Electric Mobility Blueprint.
He said Malaysia aimed to achieve 2,080MW of renewable energy by 2020 which would reduce CO2 emissions by 7 million tons annually.
“We are in a race against time. We need to heed the call to decarbonize our economies and our lifestyles. The pressing nature of the challenges we face underscores the importance of BAQ 2018.”
Dr Noor said MyCAS welcomed the opportunity to embark on a landmark collaboration partnership with Clean Air Asia.
“We are extremely excited and proud to have been selected to host the 10th BAQ Conference – Malaysia’s first time to host this prestigious event,” Dr Noor said. “It provides a valuable platform for discussion about pressing air quality issues, such as transboundary haze in Southeast Asia and the health impacts of air pollution. We are confident that this opportunity will benefit in many ways all Malaysians and those living throughout Southeast Asia.”