MANILA, PHILIPPINES – ADB is supporting the establishment of the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia) Center, the first regional non-government organization in Asia dedicated to urban air quality, as part of the initiative to further accelerate the drive to address the air pollution problem in the region.
"The creation of the CAI-Asia Center, is a significant milestone in the road to better air quality management in the region. Through the new Center, CAI-Asia is well placed to assist Asian cities to deal with the challenges they face in cleaning up the air. ADB will continue its strong relationship with the CAI-Asia in tackling air pollution," said N.J. Ahmad, director of ADB’s Environment and Social Safeguard Division.
By most measures, Asia has the highest number of polluted cities in the world. The human health toll from air pollution is over 500,000 premature deaths annually in the region, with the poor bearing the brunt of such suffering. Cities and countries in the region have reported health and environmental impacts of air pollution with economic damages to gross domestic product of up to 7%.
Asian countries around the region are taking air quality more seriously and have shown an increasing willingness to invest in monitoring and mitigation efforts. They have also initiated several policies aimed at improving urban air quality, but these vary greatly from city to city and are not implemented in a comprehensive manner.
ADB has been supporting developing member countries’ efforts to help curb air pollution in major cities through CAI-Asia, which has the core objective of increasing the capacity of Asian cities in tackling air pollution problems. CAI-Asia was launched in 2001 by ADB, the World Bank and the US Agency for International Development/US-Asia Environment Partnership. Over its six years of existence, CAI-Asia has become the acknowledged regional convener and a hub of information exchange on urban air quality in Asia.
The CAI-Asia Center will serve as the secretariat of the CAI-Asia Partnership, a non-binding, multi-stakeholder network of government agencies, non-government organizations, research institutions, international organizations, and private sector firms committed to improving air quality in Asia.