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Asia and the Pacific

Atmospheric Brown Haze
UNEP has brought together an international science team to study the impacts of aerosols on regional climate, the hydrological cycle, agriculture and human health.

The Atmospheric Brown Cloud Project aims to address concerns around regional scale plumes of air pollution that consist of copious amounts of tiny particles of soot, sulphates, nitrates, fly ash and many other pollutants. Large fraction of the aerosol particles that make up ABCs originate from emissions at the Earth’s surface caused by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biofuels.

Initial scientific results suggest that the brown haze is reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the earth’s surface by as much as 10 to 15 percent. It may also be affecting monsoon weather patterns, triggering droughts in Western parts of the Asian Continent and increasing flooding in parts of Bangladesh and India. There are also indications that the haze may be reducing winter rice harvests in India by as much as 10 per cent. A UNEP commission report suggests that pollution from the haze could be leading to "several hundreds of thousands" of premature deaths from respiratory diseases.

The first assessment report is available www.rrcap.unep.org/abc.

Environment and Health
This project aims to promote a coordinated intervention at national to regional levels for reduction of adverse impacts of environmental deterioration on human health in Asia. In 2004, UNEP in collaboration with the WHO convened the first High-Level meeting on environment and health in Southeast and East Asian countries.  The meeting requested UNEP and WHO to assist with the development and implementation of a Regional Charter for environment and health. The activities so far have resulted in the following major achievements:

  • Ministerial Forum: Convened First Ministerial Regional Forum on Environment and Health in August 2007 in Bangkok.
  • Regional Charter: Devised a Regional Charter on environment and health in South East and East Asia
  • Declaration: Ministerial level declaration (Bangkok Declaration) on Environment and Health.
  • Expert Networks: Thematic Working Groups are established and corresponding work plans have been completed for 6 priority areas:

(i) Air quality;

(ii) Water supply, hygiene and sanitation;

(iii) Solid and hazardous waste;

(iv) Toxic chemicals and hazardous substances;

(v) Climate change, ozone depletion and ecosystem changes;

(vi) Contingency planning, preparedness and response in environmental health emergencies. Progress in the implementation of the Thematic Working Group Activities are available at http://www.environment-health.asia/