Two Intl. confabs in Colombo next year

*Conferences on sustainable transport and air quality

By Ifham Nizam

The Eighth Regional Environmentally Sustainable Transport Forum and the Better Air Quality (BAQ) will be held in Colombo next year.  

Nearly 1,000 experts, from some 50 countries, will speak on Climate Change, Transportation issues and air pollution related issues, says BAQ Sri Lanka President and Naturalist Ruwan Weerasooriya.

The BAQ workshops have been held since 2001 and they have brought together a growing number of policymakers and stakeholders to discuss how to improve air quality management in Asian cities.

BAQ 2014 promises to be the biggest BAQ yet.

He says the theme for 2014 would be decided during the course of next week.

CAI (Clean Air Initiative)- Asia has become the main convener on urban air quality in Asia. It has adopted co-benefits as a leading principle in its activities on knowledge management, capacity building and policy development and it is currently planning new AQM projects in India, China, as well as in other countries that actively integrate the co-benefit approach.

UNEP and UNESCAP are both developing measures to mitigate climate change in addition to a broad range of already existing activities on air quality. BAQ 2014 is an ideal opportunity for UNEP and UNESCAP to engage with a broad range of stakeholders on their current and future programmes.

Environment and Sustainable Energy Minister Susil Premjayantha, at a discussion jointly organised by the Air Resources Management and International Cooperation Unit of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Energy and the Clean Air Asia Institution, said that the time had come to minimise air pollution and its health impact since air pollution had become a major health threat leading to many diseases. 

Premjayantha said that the transport sector was responsible for 60 per cent of the air pollution in Colombo. He said that the increase in vehicles was aggravating the situation. He also said that the vehicle fleet here in Sri Lanka had increased by 135 per cent during the last two decades and currently there were more than 4.2 million vehicles in the country.  

He also said that similar to the transport sector, the power and energy sector was also contributing to air pollution. 

The Minister stressed that it had become essential to improve the quality of fuel used in the country.  He said that steps should be taken to import fuel with less Sulphur content.

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