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Global Atmospheric Pollution Forum (GAP Forum)

The forum brought together regional networks, international organisations and other stakeholders to develop effective policies and programmes to protect public health and the environment from the harmful effects of atmospheric pollution.

Old coal plant

South Korea considers shutting down old coal power plants. Photo credit: ICNews Group.

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In an early assessment of options for strengthening international co-operation, the GAP Forum identified potential ‘pathways’ which could potentially prove helpful. In further work under the programme it was concluded that the best option lay in linking climate and pollution through co-benefit strategies.

Through an extension to the programme, the GAP Forum held a major conference in Stockholm in 2008 which has played a crucial, catalytic role in developing understanding of and support for ‘short-lived climate forcer (SLCF)’ strategies which, as well as abating key regional air pollutants and hence contributing to health and food security, could deliver earlier climate abatement than action on CO2 alone.

The GAP Forum’s activities stimulated several global level activities on SLCFs. By linking options for abating the health and economic impacts of air pollution with mitigation of climate change, this initiative provided a basis for a substantial and long-term improvement in the scope and effectiveness of international co-operation on air pollution.

It also supported nations in their efforts to find cost-effective solutions that promote economic development and help alleviate poverty.


Kevin Hicks

Senior Research Fellow

SEI York

Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna

Reader / Research Leader

SEI York

Howard Cambridge

Research Support Group Manager

SEI York

Co-benefits conference 2008

In September 2008, the GAP Forum hosted a major international conference in Stockholm, Sweden on “Air Pollution and Climate Change: Developing a Framework for Integrated Co-benefits Strategies”.  It was attended by a wide of stakeholders from 30 countries, including representatives from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, the Secretariat of the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP), and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and the French Presidency of the European Union.

The conference, organized jointly by IUAPPA and SEI, brought the issue of co-benefits to prominence and resulted in a coherent policy framework focused on the critical role of the short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs).

The agreed conclusions from the conference emphasized that air pollution and climate change cannot be sensibly considered separately and that there are major advantages in considering mitigation policies that take both issues into account at the same time.

International Cooperation

The GAPForum succeeded in launching a number of highly effective initiatives around the world which worked towards reducing regional atmospheric pollution.


Southern Africa:

Sub-regional Workshop for Southern Africa Countries 2008

A sub-regional policy dialogue for the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries aimed at developing concrete steps to address air pollution in key sectors in the region was held on 5-7 March 2008 in Lusaka, Zambia. The dialogue was coordinated by Air Pollution Impact Network Africa (APINA) as part of the Sida funded Regional Air Pollution in Developing Countries (RAPIDC) Programme in partnership with the GAP Forum, UNEP’s PCFV, USEPA and SEI.

The Policy Session was held on 5-6 and the Ministerial Session on 7 March. Participants were drawn from all the 14 SADC countries: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The main outcome of the workshop was the adoption of the Lusaka Agreement (2008) – Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Policy Framework on Air Pollution.

The Policy Framework was presented to all SADC Ministers for consideration in the SADC Environment Protocol development. This process started with the review of the Policy Framework by the Technical Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development comprising the SADC Directors of Environment and Sustainable Development at their meeting of 31 July – 1 August 2008 in Windhoek, Namibia. The Committee made a resolution to recommend the adoption of the Policy Framework as a Declaration that would be endorsed by the Ministers for signing by the SADC Heads of State. Further, the Committee recommended that the contents of the Framework be included in the Air Pollution Chapter of the SADC Protocol on Environment. APINA oversaw initial interactions with SADC who invited APINA to attend the Technical Committee meeting in Namibia and subsequent meetings. SADC subsequently took ownership of the process.

Download: Lusaka Agreement (PDF, 355kb)

Eastern Africa

Sub-regional Workshop for Eastern Africa Countries 2008

The Eastern Africa sub-regional workshop—Better Air Quality in Cities—was held on 21-23 October 2008 at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

The meeting drew over 100 participants, including eight Ministers, from Eleven Eastern Africa countries. Countries represented in the meeting were: Burundi, Djibouti, DR-Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda, Somalia and Tanzania. The meeting, organised by UNEP through the PCFV in partnership with the GAP Forum, APINA, SEI and USEPA included a Policy Session and a Ministerial Session. The Policy Session, held on 21 and 22 October, identified the main urban air pollution issues in the sub-region and developed concrete policy recommendations to address these challenges. The Ministerial Session, held on 23 October, deliberated on these policy recommendations and adopted the Eastern Africa Regional Framework Agreement on Air Pollution (Nairobi Agreement-2008). The World Bank and the African Refiners Association also participated at the meeting.

Download: Eastern Africa Air Pollution Agreement (pdf)

Western Africa

Sub-regional Workshop on Better Air Quality for West and Central African Countries 2009

Twenty one countries from the West and Central Africa regions, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) participated in the West and Central African Better Air Quality sub-regional workshop held on 20-21 July 2009 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The workshop was jointly organised by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests of Cote d’Ivoire, African Refiners Association (ARA), UNEP though the PCFV, GAP Forum and other partners involved in the BAQ Africa process including SEI, APINA and the World Bank. The sub-regional workshop included a policy session held on 20-21 and a ministerial session on the 22 July 2009. The ministerial session, attended by 9 ministers and 4 ministerial appointees, adopted the West and Central Africa Regional Framework Agreement on Air Pollution (Abidjan Agreement-2009).

Download: West and Central Africa Air Pollution Agreement (PDF, 160kb)

Northern Africa

Sub-regional Workshop on Better Air Quality for North African States

The workshop, held on 23-25 November 2009 in Tunis, Tunisia, was organised by the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environmental and Sustainable Development, Tunisia and GAP Forum partners. Six countries—Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, and Mauritania—and three observer countries from the Middle East (Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen) attended the workshop.

Top policy government experts, academia and civil society experts from across the region came together for the first time to discuss air pollution issues in the sub-region and developed concrete recommendations that will be presented to ministers for adoption into a North African Air Pollution Framework agreement, including establishment of a permanent regional inter-governmental network on air pollution.

: Better Air Quality – North Africa (PDF, 97kb)


Closer co-operation on regional air pollution

Countries in Asia have set up monitoring networks to measure the scale and impacts of air pollution, including epidemiological studies, and initiated studies to promote the adoption of preventive and control measures in the energy, industrial and transportation sectors. In East Asia, the Acid Deposition Monitoring network in East Asia (EANET) has been set up. In South Asia, the Network of “Malé Declaration on Control and Prevention of Air Pollution and its likely Transboundary Effects for South Asia” has been operating. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has established an agreement on transboundary haze pollution to monitor the haze and associated problems. In central Asia, a Framework Convention on Environmental Protection for Sustainable Development is in place. The patterns of land use, energy use and natural resource use vary from sub-region to sub-region and the levels of air pollution also vary. Yet there are common strands of studies related to air pollution, impacts and adoption of preventive technologies and connected policy making which are conducive to setting up a coordination mechanism.

The first two years of activities aimed at consultations and the development of background documents on the modalities of closer cooperation among the air pollution networks in Asia-Pacific. The First Joint Meeting of the Intergovernmental Networks on Regional Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific Region was convened in Pathumthani, Thailand on 09 March 2009 under the auspices of UNEP. Representatives from the Malé Declaration and EANET participating countries, as well as from ASEAN, the Central Asian Environment Convention and the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) Secretariats attended the meeting. Experts and resource persons from various international organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America also attended the meeting.

The meeting agreed to continue the initiative as the “Joint Forum on Atmospheric Environmental issues in Asia and the Pacific”. The meeting agreed, in principle on cooperation and coordination among the networks and that careful analysis would be conducted regarding the development of the Future Plan and requested the Secretariat to further incorporate the comments from the meeting and consult with the relevant Intergovernmental Meetings, including the Intergovernmental Meetings of EANET and the Malé Declaration for the gap analysis and subsequent development of the implementation plan.

The meeting requested the Secretariat to develop the Future Plan to implement the shared goals. The draft Future Plan was developed taking into consideration the participating countries differences, capacity and capability. After consultations with the Intergovernmental Meetings of EANET and the Malé Declaration, the draft was considered by the second meeting of the Joint Forum on Atmospheric Environment in Asia and the Pacific, which was convened in Bangkok, Thailand on 10-11 March 2010.

The following member countries of the Malé Declaration and EANET participated in the Meeting of the Joint Forum: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Russia, Thailand and Viet Nam. The Acid Deposition and Oxidant Research Center (ADORC), now named as Asia Centre on Air Pollution Research (ACAP) was also represented. Representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat, Central Asian Environment Convention, SPREP Secretariat, and SACEP Secretariat, Clean Air Initiative Asia (CAI-Asia), Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Stockholm Environment Institute York (SEI York), UNEP, UNEP Regional Resource Center for Asia and the Pacific (RRC.AP) as well as resource persons and observers from various institutions also attended the Meeting.

Based on the deliberations at the second meeting of the Joint Forum on Atmospheric Environmental issues in Asia and the Pacific, a revised Joint Plan, including a work plan, was developed and adopted by the participants.

Read more about the Malé Declaration on Control and Prevention of Air Pollution and Its Likely Transboundary Effects for South Asia (Malé Declaration).

Latin America and the Caribbean

In Latin America, activities were focused on strengthening regional cooperation in a stepwise manner as described below.

A Meeting of High-Level Government Experts was convened by the UNEP Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC) (Panama City, Panama; 29th to 31st August 2007) with the objective of developing recommendations to be considered at the Sixteenth Meeting of the Forum of Ministers of the Environment of LAC (Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, 27 January-1 February, 2008).

The Meeting of High-Level Government Experts was attended by representatives from eighteen Latin American and Caribbean countries, representatives from the Inter-Agency Technical Committee’s Agencies; as well as representatives from global environmental initiatives. The GAP Forum participated at the Meeting of High-Level Government Experts through a group of experts chaired by GAP Forum Secretariat and including Mr. Paulo Artaxo (IANABIS) and Mr. Sergio Sanchez (CAI-LAC).

Following a presentation by the GAP Forum, the high-level officials agreed to recommend to the Regional Forum of Ministers at their February 2008 meeting, that the LAC participate in the GAP Forum, and that an Inter-Governmental Network on Air Pollution be established for the region. This would coordinate joint initiatives, identify common interests and priorities and share skills and experience. It could make recommendations on what form of co-operative machinery would be appropriate for the region for the longer term and consider a joint declaration on policy priorities.

In 2008, Decision 7 of the XVI Forum of Ministers of the Environment of LAC secured support in principle from Ministers for the GAP Forum’s proposal for the establishment of an Inter-Governmental Network on Air pollution in LAC.

In March 2009, a planning meeting was held in Panama of government representatives, scientists and civil society representatives to design the network and its programme. That meeting reached a number of key decisions, notably that a Framework Agreement should be prepared for approval by Ministers and that the Network should cover both air pollution and climate change.

Following bi-lateral consultations with leading governments an extended meeting was held in December 2009 in Mexico City to prepare detailed proposals on the framework agreement, priorities and work plan for the Network in time for submission to the next meeting of the Environment Ministers Forum. This meeting was hosted by the Mexican Environment Agency and held at the same time as a meeting on climate-pollution co-benefits, in view of the importance of this issue to the long-term work plan of the Network. This meeting agreed recommendations for Ministers on:

– The structure and objectives of the Network;
– Priority Issues; and
– Work plan.

It also agreed a number of key considerations which should guide the structure and programme of the Network:

  • Importance of Sub-regions – hence the desirability of working with, and in some cases through, sub regional networks for Central America, the Caribbean, and South America;
  • Variations between countries in the scale of problems and available resources – hence the need for an early status report and regional assessment;
  • The character of South America as a continent of mega-cities. Hence the importance of the Network working closely with the Clean Air Initiative – Latin America, another GAP Forum Partner.
  • Co-Benefits – the need to promote integrated strategies for air pollution and climate at both national and regional scales;
  • Health Impacts – the need to quantify and highlight these for Ministers as they were at present largely unaware of their scale and significance;
  • Holistic Approaches – the importance of linking air and climate with other national and regional strategies – notably those addressing poverty, transport, waste and ecosystem services.


Decision 7 of XVI Forum of Ministers of the Environment – Atmospheric Pollution (PDF, 31kb)

Decision 8 of XVI Forum of Ministers of the Environment – Better fuels (PDF, 32kb)

The Global Air Pollution Forum Emission Manual

A network of experts in emission inventories participated in the formulation of methods and assessment of good practice. The GAP Forum Manual and Workbook includes the agreed revisions and both are available for download here.

Please contact for further information Kevin Hicks

Funders: BOC Foundation, UNEP, USEPA, Sida

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