BreatheLife Workshop for Latin America and the Caribbean: Using AirQ+ to Estimate Public Health Benefits of Advancing Air Quality Objectives in LAC Cities [Part 2]

(New York)

Assessing the health impacts of air pollution has proven to be a key instrument to support policy making and implement interventions to improve air quality. By estimating the health benefits of air quality improvements, policy makers gather important evidence to enable the investments and stakeholder engagement required to mobilize action towards public health protection, air quality improvements and climate change mitigation.

The World Health Organization has developed AirQ+; a computer-based tool to estimate the burden of disease attributable to air pollution. The tool has been widely used in the Americas and WHO is currently preparing to release its first Spanish version.

As a part of the activities of the BreatheLife network; this workshop aims to use AirQ+ to estimate the health benefits from main cities in Latin America and the Caribbean meeting WHO AQG for PM2.5. The results will allow to highlight the relevance of the sustained political commitment and bold action and cooperation from many sectors and stakeholders in order to improve air quality and reduce its impacts on health.

Workshop Details: The Clean Air Institute, with support from PAHO, UNEP and CCAC will host a 2 days-virtual training workshop to strengthen capacities of cities in LAC regarding the WHO’s AirQ+ tool and health impact assessment by reaching the WHO air quality guidelines levels. In preparation for the workshop, the organizers will work with city officials to prepare case studies estimating the health co-benefits of reaching WHO AQG for PM2.5. This workspace will present LAC case studies, and foster experience exchange and the discussion collaborative approaches to implement actions to effectively achieve such health, climate, and environmental goals. The cities proposed for this assessment are:

  • Bogota, Colombia
  • Lima, Peru (TBC)
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Panama City, Panama (TBC)
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Santiago, Chile
  • Asuncion, Paraguay (TBC)
  • Salvador, Brazil (TBC)

As part of the workshop, partner institutions such as NASA and George Washington University will present ongoing efforts and results from studies in the region that could be useful to broad the display of current available information to foster air quality management in LAC.

Day 1 of the workshop, on July 15th, will be focused on AirQ+ Training. The session will have the participation of around 20 participants including air quality managers and public health analysts from the mentioned cities along with national representatives from Ministries of Health and Ministries of Environment. These entities taking part together in this workshop will encourage to jointly address common interest issues that will allow cities to adopt more effective tools for improving air quality in urban environments, while reducing greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants and protecting health.

Day 2 of the workshop, on July 22nd, will be a high-level public event, open to the BreatheLife Network and LAC cities and countries; to present main results and mobilize action and high-level political commitment to advance public health, air quality, and climate action in the region.

As a result of these working session, the following results are expected:

  • Strengthening a collaborative scheme between Environment and Health areas of the cities and the national government, articulated with air quality boards,
  • Mobilize action and high-level political commitment to advance in the implementation of public health goals based on the 2022 WHO air quality guidelines.
  • Guiding country-specific information and data gathering efforts to support the development of action plans in air quality management.

This workshop will set a precedent for other countries and cities in Latin America and the Caribbean, within the framework of the BreatheLife campaign, to advance in the development of capacity development activities that enhance their technical and management abilities for reducing emissions, mitigating climate change, and protecting public health.