About the Fourth Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership (APCAP) Joint Forum
The Fourth Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership (APCAP) Joint Forum will be held at the Suwon Convention Center, Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, Republic of Korea in a hybrid format on 5 to 7 September 2022. This year, the forum will be organized under the theme “The Air We Share: Scaling up governance, legislation, and finance action”, and hosted by the Gyeonggi Provincial Government.
The Fourth APCAP Joint Forum serves as a regional knowledge exchange and dialogue platform on clean air for the Asia Pacific region to:
Inform the state of air quality in the region and recognize progress made to address air pollution at multiple levels (city, national and regional) and its benefits for climate, in line with the UNEA Resolution 3/8 on Preventing and Reducing Air Pollution Globally.
Share and exchange solutions addressing the key emission sectors with a focus on governance, legislation, and finance.
Showcase innovative tools for reducing air pollution, including use of digital tools for air quality monitoring and assessments.
Inspire and accelerate action through regional cooperation for clean air.
Commemoration of the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies
On 19 December 2019, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Resolution at its 74th Session to hold an International Day of Clean Air for blue skies on 7th September and invited UNEP to facilitate the observance of the International Day, in collaboration with other relevant organizations. The resolution stresses the importance of and urgent need to raise public awareness at all levels and to promote and facilitate actions to improve air quality. The Fourth APCAP Joint Forum contributes to the commemoration of the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies in the Asia and the Pacific region.
Theme: The Air We Share: Scaling up governance, legislation, and finance action
Polluted air is creating a health emergency. Air pollution remains as one of the world’s largest environmental threats to human health. Almost everyone is now breathing unhealthy air. The Asia and the Pacific region is at the epicenter of this public health crisis, with about 4 billion people exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution. According to the 2022 Sustainable Development Goals Progress Report, progress towards reducing urban air pollution has been stagnant since 2015.
Everyone is affected, but women, children, the elderly, and people living in poverty are bearing the brunt of its impacts. In many communities, women and children are at higher risk of exposure and injuries from solid fuel stoves due to regularly taking responsibility for cooking. It is infringing on the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.
Air pollution is also affecting the climate. Air pollution and climate change are inherently linked. Major air pollutants have an impact on the climate and most share common sources with greenhouse gases.
This year’s APCAP Joint Forum discussions will focus on:
Improving ambient air quality standards and ensuring implementation of existing policies and commitments to reduce air pollution. UNEP’s Environmental Rule of Law report in 2019 found that despite a 38-fold increase in environmental laws put in place since 1972, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations falls short. This was reiterated in UNEP’s global assessment of air quality legislation in 2021 which found that a lack of enforcement capacity as a key reason for the poor implementation of air quality laws. Discussion could also consider how countries will align their efforts with the 2021 updated WHO Air quality guidelines.
Strengthening regional cooperation for clean air. Local air quality can be significantly impacted by human and natural activities outside their jurisdiction. The fact that governments cannot control emissions from outside their boundaries presents a governance challenge for air quality mitigation strategies and more effort is needed to establish air pollution control strategies across jurisdictions to reduce the human health impacts of these pollutants. The discussion could cover proposed components of a regional action programme on air pollution, including facilitation of capacity building and technical support for national action, exchange of best practices and outreach, and mobilization of commitment to multilateral cooperation.
Facilitating air quality monitoring, open data sharing, and harnessing digital technologies to strengthen data for clean air action. While there have been improvements, air quality data remains a challenge in developing Asia. According to the World Health Organization, over 6,000 cities in 117 now monitor air quality – a 6-fold increase since 2011. But access and availability of air quality data continues to be a challenge for low- and middle-income countries.
Supporting investment for clean air. Financing is a critical element in air quality management and will be necessary to shift the needle on air pollution. Unfortunately, less than 1 per cent of the total development and foundation funding is spent for tackling air pollution. Inadequate funding for air quality management is one of the key challenges identified in UNEP Actions on Air Quality Report.
Participants at the APCAP Joint Forum represent air quality stakeholders from the region and beyond. This includes high-level policy and decision-makers from national and local governments, representatives from bilateral and multilateral donors, academics and researchers, civil society organizations, international organizations, regional intergovernmental bodies, youth, media, and the private sector. The event aims to be gender balanced and inclusive, seeking involvement of representatives of disadvantaged groups and the informal sector.
The key messages, discussions, and recommendations from the APCAP Joint Forum will be conveyed through a report.
It will contribute to the commemoration of the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, and be used to develop the next phase of APCAP (after March 2024). It will be shared at the regional platforms such as the Asia Pacific Ministerial Forum on the Environment and the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the Asia Pacific Forum on Environment and Health, and contribute to the discussion of the regional action programme on air pollution which will be deliberated at the 7th Committee on Environment and Development at ministerial level in November 2022.
About the APCAP Joint Forum
The APCAP Joint Forum has become the key venue in the Asia Pacific for sharing latest policy-relevant scientific knowledge, and information on the state of national and international efforts on air quality. The forum also aims to identify priority air quality issues, promote regional approaches to combat the priority issues where appropriate and identify mechanisms to help address air pollution challenges of the region.
The Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership (APCAP) aims to:
Serve as a mechanism for better coordination and collaboration of clean air programs in the region.
Provide a platform to generate and share knowledge on air pollution initiatives, policies, and technologies in the Asia Pacific region.
Strengthen institutional capacity, provide technical assistance on air quality management; and support air quality assessments to identify solutions for clean air.
The voluntary partnership was launched by UNEP and partners in 2015 as a response to the call for action on air quality at the First Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) in 2014 (Resolution 1/7 on Air Quality) and 2017 (Resolution on Preventing and Reducing Air pollution to Improve Air Quality Globally) and to help achieve the relevant Sustainable Development Goals.
This responds to Resolution 3/8 of the third United Nations Environment Assembly in 2017 on ‘Preventing and reducing air pollution to improve air quality globally’ which requested the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme to, inter alia, ‘support the enhancement of regional cooperation to address air pollution…in close cooperation with the Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership, and to organize regional communities of practice for air quality management through the regional offices of the United Nations Environment Programme.’ (paragraph 7(c)).
Timeline of the APCAP Joint Forum
The first two forums in 2015 and 2018 were organized in Bangkok, Thailand. The Second APCAP Joint Forum was organized as part of the Asia Pacific Clean Air Week. It brought together 300 delegates from 30 countries to share and exchange practical and innovative solutions for clean air. The forum showcased the leadership that the governments, cities, NGOs, businesses, and citizens were taking to fight air pollution and demonstrated that proven solutions do exist. Many of these solutions are linked to technology and innovation, financing supported by credible science and policy guidance and tools, and wider public awareness on health, social, and economic implications of poor air quality.
The third APCAP Joint Forum was organized as a virtual event on 8-9 September 2021 and was hosted by the Ministry of the Environment, Japan where over 500 participants from 30 countries joined. The theme of for the third iteration was ‘build back better for healthy air, healthy planet’ and contributed to the commemoration of the second International Day of Clean Air for blue skies. More information about previous forums is available online: http://cleanairweek.org/