Concurrent Session: | 4 OCTOBER
Clean Air in Asia: Sustainable Business Practices in Focus
DATE AND TIME
4 October 10:45 – 12:15 hrs (ICT)
Conference Room 3, UN Conference Centre Bangkok, Thailand
Air pollution has deep implications for economies across Asia, including the loss of economic output, reduced productivity among workers, and increased health care costs. According to some sources, around 1.2 billion workdays are lost globally each year due to air pollution. Indeed, studies show that approximately 92% of Asia-Pacific’s population experiences air pollution at levels that violate human rights. Furthermore, air pollution does not impact everyone equally. Polluted air disproportionately impacts low-skilled workers, workers in the informal sector, indigenous peoples, women, and children—groups that are often the least able to access health services.
Given the extent and criticality of the issue, action is urgently required to address the root causes of air pollution and potential solutions. Among other prescriptions, governments must address clean air as a priority policy objective, rooted in the State’s duty to protect human rights. Business professionals must also demonstrate commitment, by minimizing air pollution in their operations and supply chains. And though there is increased focus on data gathering, analysis, standardization and sharing protocols, more work must also be done to promote effective governance and private sector action. Public participation in air pollution policy making is largely lacking, even as strategic lawsuits against State actors are increasing in some countries. In this context, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) may offer a useful framework for delineating State responsibility to protect the right to clean air, and business obligations to respect this right in turn.
Cost-effective solutions to address air pollution are available. These can be deployed to address emissions from powerplants, transport vehicles, industrial furnaces, brick kilns, plantations, domestic solid-fuel heating, and the unregulated burning of waste. With these sources of air pollution in mind, the report, ‘Air Pollution in Asia Pacific: Science Based Solutions’ identifies 25 policy responses and technological solutions for deeper consideration. New tools and approaches are emerging to strengthen engagement of business in clean air action, including the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s guide for businesses on air pollution emissions assessment, and the business action framework of the Alliance for Clean Air of the World Economic Forum. Furthermore, new regulatory measures from the European Union, including around sustainability reporting, are rapidly coming into view, with implications for air pollution monitoring and mitigation. Adding to this, the increased recognition that specific actions taken to reduce air pollution can also help mitigate climate change.
The pace of momentum is clearly quickening. But how can business, government and civil society collaborate for effective and sustainable action? What tools serve industry best and what stands in the way of progress? What smart mix of regulations are needed to spark action now?
This session will introduce participants to leading issues and trends to help business understand how best to address air pollution, including an overview of new assessments, data monitoring protocols, due diligence guidance and global regulatory developments.
Panelists will provide their insights through discussion on their current work, providing feedback to the audience during a question-and-answer period following the discussion.
Upon completion of the session, participants will better understand the:
progress made in addressing air pollution in Asia
emerging regulatory space related to air pollution
tools available and best practices for mitigating air pollution risks
links between air pollution and climate change, and ways to maximize co-benefits and
means by which businesses can measure, report and reduce their contributions to air pollution.