Opening remarks by Fatima Yasmin, ADB Vice-President (Sectors and Themes), at the 11th Better Air Quality Conference, 15 November 2023, Manila, Philippines

Thank you, Glynda.

Distinguished guests, delegates, and ADB colleagues, good morning!

I am delighted to welcome you to the 11th Better Air Quality conference, co-hosted by ADB, Clean Air Asia, and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. For over 20 years, ADB has been a proud partner of Clean Air Asia, which was established through our technical assistance project on “Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities.”

Air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are twin challenges that threaten our climate, health, and economy. Air pollution is one of the most urgent environmental health crises in the world. It affects nine out of ten people worldwide and causes about 7 million deaths annually, 70% of which occurs in Asia and the Pacific. The health cost of air pollution is estimated at $8.1 trillion a year, equivalent to 6.1% of global gross domestic product. Air pollution also disproportionately impacts vulnerable populations, especially women, children, and the poor.

Air pollution and climate change are closely linked. They share common sources, such as coal-fired power plants and diesel-fueled vehicles. Therefore, actions taken to reduce air pollution can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and vice versa.

The good news is that we have solutions that are within our reach. As speakers before me shared that we have technologies we can invest in, we can focus on effective strategies and planning at country level, and we can foster cooperation and collaboration among partners. We can adopt 25 clean air measures that have proven to be effective in reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in Asia and the Pacific.

As the region’s Climate Bank, ADB has set an ambition to provide $100 billion in cumulative climate financing from our own resources by 2030. We are also increasing our support for improving air quality. In September 2022, we launched the Asia Clean Blue Skies Program, which aims to scale up financing and capacity building for clean air solutions in our developing member countries.

ADB has been recognized as one of the top global financiers for improving outdoor air quality by the State of Global Air Quality Funding 2023 report. However, we need to do more to mobilize public and private sector investments in projects that have co-benefits for climate and health.

This conference is a valuable opportunity to join forces, learn from each other, identify new initiatives, and leverage additional resources for air quality. I hope you will make the most of your time here and translate our shared vision of blue and clean skies into concrete actions. As Dr. Bindu Lohani said in his remarks, we look forward to three days of extensive discussion to find new ways, new ideas and new solutions to have better air quality for cleaner spaces. Together, we can create a brighter and healthier future for ourselves and the next generations in Asia and the Pacific.

Thank you.