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Dr. Supat Wangwongwatana is a scientist and practitioner who has spent the last 26 years working to improve air quality in Thailand and throughout Asia. Dr Wangwongwatana has worked to institutionalize air quality management in Thailand and is an esteemed role model for air quality management scientists and practitioners in cities and countries across Asia. He is also a member of the CCAC Scientific Advisory Panel.
The Kong Ha Award recognizes people who are responsible for the formulation of air quality management related policies and their day-to-day implementation in Asia and was established by the Clean Air Asia Partnership.
Presenting the award Clean Air Asia Executive Director Bjarne Pedersen said Dr Wangwongwatana was a worthy award honoree, embodying the true spirit of the award with his deep commitment, knowledge, enthusiasm and strong sense of partnership in pursuit of solutions to one of the most pressing issues of our time.
“Dr Wangwongwatana has demonstrated technical expertise in the field of the highest standard. When we look at his achievements, we see multi-stakeholder participation and a strong commitment to transforming his scientific work into policies that champion our cause for cleaner air for everyone,” Mr Pedersen said.
Dr Wangwongwatana’s many contributions include retrofitting the Mae Moh lignite-fired thermal power plant in Thailand’s Lampang province to significantly reduce sulfur dioxide emissions that were a large health burden for people within the vicinity of the plant.
“People said it was an impossible mission,” he said. “It took us eight years to achieve our goal. And from this, I want to deliver my message to all of you that when people question your goals for cleaner air, it can be done.”
In the 1990s, Dr Wangwongwatana also developed policies to reduce air pollution in Bangkok, then one of the region’s most polluted cities. His work subsequently influenced the adoption of cleaner fuel and vehicle standards – two of the factors that are intrinsically linked to the cleaner air Bangkok today enjoys.
Dr Supat has also long been involved in climate change mitigation, representing Thailand in negotiations on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in early 1990. As Secretary-General of the ONEP, he led the Thai delegation to COP17 /CMP7 in 2011 and was a member of the Board of the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization.
Anamita Roychowdhury, Executive Director of Research and Advocacy at the Center for Science and Environment, said Dr Wangwongwatana had been able to bring together policy and science, enabling the more effective implementation of policies.
“What I find most appealing is his sensitivity and deep understanding of the importance of clean air action,” Ms Roychowdhury said. “His commitment to early action to catch up and stay ahead of the pollution curve resonates well with the spirit of the Kong Ka award. It is a powerful message to inspire us all.”
Dr Wangwongwatana said the fight for clean air in Asia’s cities was far from over.
“We still have lots of work to do. Let’s join hands and work together.”
This story first appeared on the Clean Air Asia website here
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