Air pollution knows no borders and has become one of the most significant global public health challenges. Despite tangible progress, air pollution still leads to an estimated 7 million premature deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Pollution is one of the five main drivers of biodiversity loss, threatening today the survival of more than 1 million of the planet’s estimated 8 million plant and animal species. Concerted action is needed to reverse this deadly trend.
Over 60 international officials, policy makers, researchers and business representatives came together to the jointly organised event by the European Union and Switzerland at Expo 2020 Dubai yesterday.
The event, titled "Air Quality beyond Borders: Best Practices in Air Quality management including from the ‘European Green Deal’ - The Business Perspective", was hosted at the Swiss Pavilion and focused on the private transport and logistics sectors while integrating relevant insights from UAE policymakers.
Ambassador Andrea Matteo Fontana, EU Commissioner-General to Expo said in his opening remarks:
“In July this year, the European Union has proposed a comprehensive plan that will deliver our goals of becoming a climate neutral continent by 2050. The decarbonisation of transport sector is central to achieving this ambitious goal. We are committed to a future-proof transport sector, by creating a market for sustainable fuels and technologies, and ensuring broad uptake not only in the EU but globally. Our message is clear, we care, we can, and we do.”
This event follows a webinar hosted on 7 September 2021 by Switzerland and the European Union to mark the 2nd UN International Day “Clean Air for Blue Skies”, when a panel of experts comprising policymakers and scientists from the EU, Switzerland, UAE and United Nations, came together. They emphasized the importance of clean air for public health, agreed that policies for clean air are crucial and that regional as well as global cooperation in this field is necessary.
Swiss Ambassador Massimo Baggi, said in the context of the event:
“On average, an adult person breathes 20,000 times a day. Clean Air is, therefore, our most valuable resource. Switzerland is committed to a regional and international joint effort to reduce emissions and guarantee clean air. Not only do we adopt the EU limit values, but we also contribute to setting them. Switzerland is valued partner in this process, because we contribute by providing good research and innovations on the issue. And if there are emission limits in Europe, sooner or later they might spread around the world, which will improve air quality for everyone.”
The panel encompassed representatives from DHL Global Forwarding, Lufthansa Group Airlines, Etihad Rail and Borouge. The event was also attended by representatives from the UAE's Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Khalifa University to allow for fruitful exchanges between the policy, research and business actors.