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Reducing air pollution in the Middle East and North Africa to improve health and address climate change

As part of the first Middle East and North Africa Climate Week, SEI York Senior Research Fellow Chris Malley discussed how taking steps to reduce air pollution in the region can improve human health, enhance local air quality and help mitigate global climate change. His presentation and those of others from Morocco and Oman were part of a side event hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and SEI.

28 March 2022 at 14:00 GST

ending at 15:30 GST

Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Online
Hazy skyline with low visibility in Cairo, Egypt. Various sign and billboards on rooftops.

Smog covers the skyline of Cairo. Photo: Joel Carillet / iStock / Getty Images.

The first Middle East and North Africa Climate Week was held in March 2022 to integrate climate action into global pandemic recovery efforts, capitalize on opportunities to address social inequalities and invest in economic development that is good for humanity and nature.

As part of the week, UNEP, the CCAC and SEI co-organized a side event focused on the potential for reductions in air pollution to improve human health in the region and enhance nationally determined contributions to the Paris Agreement.

The Enhancing Climate Change Commitments through the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants with local benefits for air quality, human health and food security event highlighted progress that countries in the region have made in identifying and acting on ways to reduce methane, black carbon and other pollutants. The presentations underscored that integrated planning to reduce air pollution and to address climate change mitigation can bring multiple benefits.

Martina Otto, Head of Cities Unit and Secretariat of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction at UNEP, introduced the event saying, “If we do things the right way, if we look at designing better integrated strategies and measures, there’s a substantial opportunity to achieve benefits on both ends – local air quality and health benefits as well as as climate change mitigation action. And it doesn’t really matter which door we come from…but we actually do good on the other side as well.”

SEI York’s Chris Malley discussed “How to plan for action to improve air quality, health and mitigate climate change”, involving integrated planning approaches with emphasis on methane mitigation and on moving to implementation of integrated plans/planning processes.

Other presentations at the event included:

  • “Integrated assessment of air pollution and climate change in Africa” by Kenza Khomsi, who heads the Air Quality Service of the National Meteorological Directorate of Morocco. The presentation offered the first preliminary findings of the assessment and included practical measures that can be taken to reduce emissions and pollutant in the region through specific routes, such as transportation, industry, agriculture, waste, households, and oil and gas.
  • “National Action Plan for Short-Life Climate Pollutants” by Abdelali Dakkina, who coordinates Morocco’s national SLCP plan.
  • “Integrating air quality climate change strategies in Oman”, presented by Jehad Jabr Nasser Albusaidi of the Oman Ministry of Commerce and Investment Promotion.

Watch the recording

Video: Chris Malley / YouTube.

SEI participant

Chris Malley

Senior Research Fellow

SEI York

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