IGES Activities on the Better Air Quality (BAQ) conference 2023

The Better Air Quality (BAQ) conference 2023, the region's largest and most prestigious air quality gathering, was held on 15th -17th November 2023, with pre-events on 13th -14th November, at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Manila, Philippines. It was organised by Clean Air Asia (CAA), along with co-organizers, the ADB, and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), bringing hundreds of policymakers, stakeholders, world-renowned experts, academics, and industry leaders. Over 700 delegates from 39 countries including IGES experts committed to achieving better air quality.

BAQ 2023 was themed Ambition to Action: Clean Air for Health and the Climate. With a focus on science as the basis for action, integrated solutions, and innovative financing mechanisms, the BAQ 2023 offered participants a unique opportunity to discuss how to tackle two of the most pressing threats to Asia’s sustainable development: air pollution and climate change.

The objectives of the BAQ 2023 conference were as follows:

  • Share knowledge and dialogue on the latest science, solutions and financing models for the transformative changes
  • Provide a platform for interaction focused on the practical solutions that can drive required shifts in energy generation, industry, transportation, agriculture, waste management, and urban development
  • Provide a platform for advancing key global and regional initiatives forward such as CCAC’s Clean Air Flagship Program, UNESCAP-led Regional Action Programme on Air Pollution, and the Global Methane Pledge.
  • Identify clean air projects and initiatives and potential sources of funding

Several IGES experts participated in pre-events as well as side events and contributed to knowledge sharing on issues ranging from integrated action planning, methane and black carbon in the waste management sector, and synergies between air quality improvement and the SDGs. At the BAQ, IGES demonstrated its ability to contribute to air quality management based on science and experience from different expert areas such as climate and energy, waste management, health impact, and others that can make Asia cleaner and more sustainable.

The Better Air Quality (BAQ) Workshop held in Manila, Philippines provided a unique opportunity to contribute to ongoing work aimed at integrating co-benefits into climate plans in the Philippines. As a participant in a side event held as part of the larger BAQ, I had the privilege of discussing with policymakers from different agencies in the Philippines how to improve air quality and tackle climate change. The side event was jointly organized by Clean Air Asia, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) in line with a project funded the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).

The workshop in question aimed to support the co-design of strategies that aimed to enhance air quality by incorporating co-benefits into climate plans in the Philippines. I supported two sets of activities in the workshop. The first was providing insights into how govern co-benefits—with an emphasis on institutional arrangements that can facilitate interagency coordination. The second set of activities focused on surveying policymakers on implementing solutions with co-benefits. For instance, I worked with policymakers to understand whether the biggest hurdles to advancing transport solutions (i.e. evehicles) were financial, technical, social or institutional in nature. Both sets of activities will help to recommend enabling reforms that overcome implementation barriers and strengthen climate planning in the Philippines.

Participating in the Better Air Quality Workshop was a rewarding experience. It allowed me to contribute meaningfully to the integration of co-benefits into climate plans in the Philippines. As we continue to face the challenges of climate change, workshops like these play a crucial role in shaping integrative strategies for a sustainable future.

About BAQ


Side Events where IGES staff participated as a speaker

13 November, 2023 - 14 November, 2023
Short-Lived Climate Pollutants National Action Planning Workshop

14 November, 2023
Methane Mitigation Training 101

This workshop was an introductory training on methane mitigation organized by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) together with the Global Methane Hub (GMH). Mr. Nethan Borgford-Parnell, Science Affairs Coordinator of CCAC, provided the audience with the basic science behind methane and its links to air pollution as methane drives a rise in tropospheric ozone, which causes more than 1 million premature deaths annually, loss of agriculture production, in addition to the climate change as methane is the second largest contributor to the global warming after CO2. He also stressed the importance of incorporating the methane reduction into the national policy and strategies, and the CCAC’s support on Methane Roadmap Action Programme (M-RAP) through which more than 30 countries across the world have been developing feasible methane mitigation actions. Under the M-RAP Programme, IGES is actively engaged in supporting the development of national methane reduction roadmaps in two Asian countries, including Cambodia and Micronesia.

The workshop also featured insights from IGES, showcasing practical experiences and analyses in municipal solid waste management in Asia. Ms. Miho Hayashi, Programme Manager of IGES, presented about several technical options such as composting, bio-digestion, black soldier fly, landfill gas capture, etc to reduce methane emission. Methane is generated through the process of anaerobic digestion of organic waste that is usually openly dumped at final disposal sites without pollution control in low and middle-income countries. She highlighted that improvement of waste management which brings methane reduction requires sustainable operation of the adapted technique and technology, and the sustainability depends on cost of sorted-waste collection, market maturity of the products made of recycled material, and cooperation on waste segregation from waste generators including residents, offices, and commercial entities. She further delivered a comparative analysis of centralized composting activities in Sri Lanka, providing valuable insights into sustainable operational aspects, including the modality of operations, financial and technical support from provincial and central governments, leadership, and citizen cooperation and awareness

At the end, the workshop underscored a crucial message: the prompt implementation of methane mitigation measures is technically and financially feasible; however, it demands robust political will, comprehension from government and business sectors, and a transformative shift in consumer behaviour. The audience departed with a distinct awareness that urgent action is imperative to tackle methane emissions and their far-reaching impacts.

17 November, 2023
Collaboration to promote Integrated Actions for Clean Air and a Sustainable Future in Asia

‘Clean Air and a Sustainable Future in Asia’, a project conducted by the Ministry of Environment and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), identifies synergies and trade-offs between climate change actions and other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This project’s secretariat is IGES, which is concurrently engaged in collaborative research, and the results of this research were presented at BAQ2023. The project presented a scenario analysis of how climate change policies can help improve air quality and adverse health impacts in Asia. In addition, it presented an analysis of the impacts of climate change policies on natural ecosystems.

Addressing environmental issues, including climate change, requires knowledge from various scientific fields. The project’s integrated assessment model aims to gather and analyse this knowledge, providing essential information to policymakers and other stakeholders. Further, many environmental issues are inter-related, and the integrated assessment model clarifies the synergies and trade-offs to identify the best possible policies.

Climate change and air pollution involve numerous stakeholders, including policymakers, businesses and citizens. Although each group can contribute from their respective positions, collaborative efforts are essential to address these environmental issues effectively. Integrated assessment models can provide scenarios for achieving a better world, offering insight into identifying the solutions to problems and supplying information to achieve them.

Many synergies and trade-offs exist between climate change and other SDGs. Professor Halsnæs et al. have detailed these synergies and trade-offs1. The MOEJ–IIASA project specifically focuses on analysing the synergies and trade-offs between policies addressing air pollution, food security and biodiversity. These are related to SDG2 (zero hunger), SDG3 (good health and well-being), SDG14 (life under water) and SDG15 (life on land). Further, some other synergies and trade-offs exist that need to be analysed as well. As there is not enough time to implement measures to limit global warming to below 1.5°C, urgent actions are required.

1 Halsnæs et al. (2023) Beyond synergies: understanding SDG trade-offs, equity and implementation challenges of sectoral climate change mitigation options. Sustain Sci. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11625-023-01322-3


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