Clarity participated in the Asia Pacific Clean Air Week 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand from March 19–23 to discuss how reliable, real-time air quality data are needed to quantify the impacts of clean air policies and demonstrate the full value proposition of such investments.

Hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership (APCAP), the week-long event immersed participants in a series of workshops, conferences, and networking opportunities around solutions for better air quality. Clarity’s invitation to Clean Air Week followed Clarity’s participation at the third United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, Kenya last year, where Clarity deployed an air monitoring network and engaged delegates in discussion around the emerging role of new monitoring technologies in air pollution mitigation.

Four months later in Bangkok, Clarity reunited with UNEP at Clean Air Week where leaders, experts, activists and influencers from all sectors came together to share ready-to-implement solutions and best practices in addressing global and local air pollution threats. Clarity’s solution was featured as a breakthrough innovation alongside Mobike’s dockless bicycles and a UN Rideshare application.

While attending Clean Air Week, Clarity had the opportunity to connect with numerous government officials, demonstrate Clarity’s solution, and deploy a demo air monitoring Node near the United Nations Conference Center as part of a developing partnership with UNEP. Real-time data from the demo Node, along with dozens of other global monitoring locations, are accessible on Clarity OpenMap.

The apex of Clean Air Week 2018 was the two-day Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership Joint Forum taking place on March 21–22, organized to help realize the clean air goals set forth by the UNEA in Asia and the Pacific. The Joint Forum was the APCAP’s direct response to the UNEA’s December 2017 resolution to “support the enhancement of regional cooperation to address air pollution…in close cooperation with the Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership, and to organize regional communities of practice for air quality management through the regional offices of the United Nations Environment Programme.”

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© UNEP Asia Pacific

This year’s event continued conversations from the previous inaugural Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership Joint Forum in 2015 and introduced new perspectives on tackling air pollution. Participants attended expert panel discussions and exchanged insights on the latest policy, finance, technology solutions to develop relevant and scalable strategies to the Asia Pacific’s most pressing air pollution problems. Among the numerous strategies discussed, there was a clear consensus on the urgent need for ubiquitous air quality monitoring solutions that enable scientists and policymakers to design successful clean air campaigns.

Of significance, the Session 5: “Innovating financing, technology and regulatory frameworks for improving air quality” panel discussion brought together some the world’s leading experts from public and private sectors, including Clarity’s Director of Business Development, Sean Wihera, for a lively discussion on the technology, regulatory frameworks, and financing efforts needed to drive investment towards air pollution mitigation solutions.

Traditionally, pouring money into tackling air pollution was unattractive and inefficient due to the vague return on investment. However, a growing number of studies suggest clean air provides immense savings in health and welfare costs, increased productivity, and healthier, longer lives. The World Bank revealed that air pollution costs the global economy $225 billion annually in loss of income alone. As the 4th leading cause of death among all health risks, global economic stakeholders are realizing that clean air is not an intangible good, but rather one of our most prized forms of capital.

Panelist Daniele Ponzi, Chief of the Asian Development Bank’s Environment Thematic Group, brought up the importance of measuring the impact and efficiency of investments intended to improve air quality. The Asian Development Bank recently signed loans and grant agreements with Mongolia totaling over $207M to improve the air quality in Ulaanbaatar. As the lending increases, it will be more important than ever for lenders like the Asian Development Bank to measure their return on investment. Clarity’s real-time air quality data allows stakeholders to identify highly localized causes and effects of poor air quality and quantify the impacts of mitigation activities to demonstrate the full value proposition of clean air investments and policy decisions.

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© UNEP Asia Pacific

Sean Wihera reflected on his takeaways from the panel, “Increasingly, the scientific evidence demonstrates that clean air is not only a moral obligation, but an obvious economic choice. Using today’s technologies, we can provide data that can clearly demonstrate the true value of potential investments and policy changes for both public and private sectors.”

Citizens are ready — and have a right — to breathe clean air. Businesses are ready for increased productivity and reduced liability. Governments are ready for lower healthcare costs. Investors are ready to support these improvements. The next steps will be to bring these players together to implement innovative solutions and design sustainable models that prioritize the holistic well-being of current and future generations, starting with gathering the science to back it all up.