2020 Highlights: Over 100 Virtual Meetings With Real World Reach
In 2020, GAHP succeeded in establishing an increasing number of key connections that have increased the visibility of pollution on the global agenda, even as the pandemic placed limitations on the way we all work. Here are some highlights of GAHP’s work across the board.
Advocacy – Over 100 Virtual Meetings
As global meetings and events moved online, so did GAHP’s advocacy work.
In 2020, thanks to funding from the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), Pure Earth and the Clarios Foundation, GAHP held over 100 virtual meetings to advocate for the adoption of recommendations from the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health report, and to raise awareness about the scope of lead poisoning globally. Among events organized by GAHP were:
- T20 presentation on air pollution and climate
- Parliamentary workshop in Indonesia on the Health and Pollution Action plan in Kalimantan
- C20 panel on pollution, climate, and SDGs with Clean Air Asia, NCD Alliance, Pure Earth and others.
- Lead presentation to multiple ministries and government agencies in various countries including Sweden, USA, and Switzerland.
- Two global panels (in English and Spanish) on lead during Lead Poisoning Prevention Week with GAHP, WHO, UNEP, UNICEF, Pure Earth, Clarios and more.
- Webinar on air pollution case studies in Asia with UNEP
GAHP also participated in presentations/interventions at events hosted by the World Economic Forum and OECD; engaged with working groups at SAICM and ICCM; and joined the Planetary Health Alliance and Every Breath Counts Coalition.
Increasing Visibility, Setting Precedents With G20
Of particular note were inroads GAHP made in 2020 with G20 engagements groups: Think Tank 20 (T20), Urban 20 (U20), Civil Society 20 (C20), and with G20 sherpa offices in Canada, Italy and Japan. As a result of these advocacy efforts, a call to address air pollution and its health impacts was included in the T7 and T20 recommendations to the G20, setting a precedent and increasing the visibility of pollution to G20 leaders. GAHP also published its first T20 policy brief.
Internationally, pollution also began to appear on various agendas.
- In Sept 2020, the Leaders Pledge for Nature, which includes representatives from 84 countries, included calls for action to reduce pollution and its impacts on planetary sustainability.
- In its Medium-Term Strategy for 2022-2025, UNEP is calling for “a pollution-free planet” as one of its three key pillars. They note that this is based on previous UNEA resolutions, including the UNEA 2019 resolutions on pollution, which were a direct result of GAHP’s advocacy.
Sparking Investments in Funding
GAHP’s work has also led to an increase in investments funding projects related to pollution, such as UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s (UK FCDO) launch of a large research program on Sustainable Manufacturing and Environmental Pollution (SMEP).
Of note, USAID has started to increase the number of competitive grants that include reference or a specific focus on pollution as a direct result of GAHP’s work and the publication of the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health in 2017. In February, USAID issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) seeking opportunities to collaborate on pollution prevention and mitigation. This is the first time they have issued such a BAA regarding pollution.
Thanks to support from the Swedish Ministry of Environment, USAID and SDC work is continuing on an update to the 2017 report from the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health. An authors’ meeting was held in November 2020, and the followup report is expected to be submitted to the Lancet in early 2021.
GAHP convened a technical experts group to establish a lead metric for quantifying the health and economic impacts/benefits of remediation and risk reduction projects in 2021.
Work also began in 2020 to collate data on existing blood lead levels and relevant regulations related to lead pollution globally for inclusion on the pollution.org website.
Health and Pollution Action Plans
In 2020, Madagascar‘s President and Prime Minister declared pollution a priority, based on the country’s HPAP (Health and Pollution Action Plan), which was completed in 2018.
GAHP completed HPAPs in Kalimantan, Indonesia; Senegal and Tajikistan. New HPAPs began in Azerbaijan and Bangladesh with funding from USAID, the EU Delegation of Tajikistan and SDC.
In October, as part of Thailand’s HPAP process, the Thai Environment institute hosted a stakeholder meeting in Thailand on open field burning with support from Pure Earth, GAHP and UNEP, with funding from the Oak Foundation and SDC.
In November, as part of HPAP work, GAHP and Miami University’s Geospatial Analysis Center trained 14 environmental professionals from Southeast Asia in open source earth observation and geospatial information (GIS) technologies for open burning prevention with funding from SDC.
Read details of HPAP updates here.
On the ground, GAHP supported Pure Earth’s outreach to local NGOs in Colombia, Senegal, and Bangladesh. In Colombia, campaigns being launched, funded in part by SDC and USAID, include:
- Air Pollution monitoring and awareness near a school in Manizales Caldas.
- Studying the effects of pollution of the Bogota river (from tanneries) on food and recreation areas for children and families in Cundinamarca.
- Environmental pollution and its effects on children and families in the Puente Nayero Humanitarian Space.
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