Through the Climate and Clean Air project in Latin American Cities Plus (CALAC+) programme, Swisscontact participated as a co-facilitator in the course "Tackling Air Pollution using science for policies to protect health" of this year's Lugano Summer School. The three-day course took place in hybrid mode (online and face-to-face) with participants from 19 countries: Canada, Chile, Ghana, Greece, India, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Mongolia, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal, Sudan, Switzerland, Thailand, Tanzania, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States.
The course provided participants with an overview of measuring, modelling and monitoring exposure to air pollution, its health effects and overall public health impacts and costs. The programme's participation represents a unique role in the team of facilitators as CALAC+ is the only programme that provides first-hand experience at the operational level and has formulated regulatory instruments for the reduction of air emissions.
CALAC+ has developed tools for the cost-benefit analysis of policies for the reduction of pollutants from the transport and construction machinery sectors. In line with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines, the formulation of regulatory instruments requires regulatory impact analyses that include cost-benefit analyses of the implementation of proposed measures.
CALAC+ provided its experience of its cost-benefit analysis tools, strategies and policy solutions for clean air in Latin America. The course was led by Prof. Nino Künzli, MD, PhD and was facilitated by experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA), the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) and Swisscontact through CALAC+.
The WHO has indicated that air pollution is one of the greatest environmental threats to human health, along with climate change. It estimates that each year exposure to air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths and results in the loss of millions more years of healthy life. In children, this could include reduced lung growth and function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. In adults, heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of premature death attributable to outdoor air pollution. This puts the burden of disease attributable to air pollution on a par with other major global health risks, such as poor diet and smoking. (source: WHO)
Thus, although there is scientific evidence of the health impacts of poor air quality, it is necessary to go further and combine this scientific evidence with strategic information for policy formulation, including assessments of the benefits and costs of proposed policies. This is where the CALAC+ programme has made its major contributions to the development of the course. The cost-benefit analysis tools developed by the programme aim to translate highly complex technical information into direct results for decision-makers regarding policies to improve the health of citizens.
Through direct examples of how to use these tools, CALAC+ has demonstrated that it is possible to establish a bridge between academia with its thematic experts and government actors to make joint decisions for the well-being of humanity. Some examples included the issuance of the supreme decree adopting the Euro VI emissions standard for heavy vehicles in Peru, the tax exemption strategy for more than 2,300 hybrid vehicles imported into Colombia in 2021, the elaboration of the Lima-Callao Decontamination Plan 2021-2025 regarding machinery.
After the course, representatives from the different participating countries were eager to learn more about the CALAC+ tools and strategies to achieve the impact shown to government actors. These tools are now open access to all citizens and this added value allows students and professionals from all over the world to learn from these developments. The CALAC+ programme continues its commitment to support government actors to make informed decisions based on high-level scientific information, while sharing its knowledge and experiences with professionals around the world.