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European conference on improving air quality

The Barcelona Declaration for Air Quality, Noise Reduction and Health Improvement in Big Cities has been presented

Monday, June 8th, 2015

European conference on improving air quality

On June 5th on the occasion of the World Environment Day, took place the "European symposium on air quality, noise and health effects on urban agglomerations”, an event organized by the Department of Territory and Sustainability of the Government of Catalonia, the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), an ISGlobal allied center.

As part of this event the Barcelona Declaration for Air Quality, Noise Reduction and Health Improvement in Big Cities was presented. The Barcelona Declaration calls with the aim of promoting and developing plans to improve air quality to put air pollution levels below the established legal levels. The promoters of the Declaration were the Department of Territory and Sustainability, the Department of Health from the Government of Catalonia, CREAL, ISGlobal and the Air Quality Initiative of the Regions network, consisting of 13 regions in Europe representing 22 % of GDP and 18% of the population (about 88 million), in which Catalonia takes part since its creation in 2011. The network includes many of the most densely populated and industrialized cities in 7 states, including Milan , Turin, Bologna, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Cologne, London and Barcelona.

Also, during the conference, the Plan to Improve the Air Quality in Barcelona, introduced last year, was explained. In addition, initiatives to raise awareness about the use of public transport and a more sustainable transport, to encourage walking and cycling in the daily mobility, were also explained.

Antoni Plasencia, director of ISGlobal, said that "knowledge must be transformative and it is achieved through the translation. ISGlobal, born from the Hospital Clinic and the University of Barcelona, and where Government of Catalonia, government of Spain and the city of Barcelona are participating, but also philanthropy through ‘La Caixa’ Foundation and Ramón Areces Foundation, studies communicable diseases such as malaria. In this context it is essential the knowledge in environment and health. For this reason, CREAL is been incorporated in ISGlobal. It is important to remark that the problems are global, not local. ISGlobal is working to resolve inequities in health. Therefore, we offer all the experience of CREAL and ISGlobal to help to reduce the problem of pollution and noise in cities."

Santi Vila, Councilor for Territory and Sustainability at the Government of Catalonia, said that "development must be sustainable or not to be. I want to stress that we must align the business, the academia and the administration worlds. We must be able to ensure meeting spaces, like this, to this alignment. We also need new legislative instruments against climate change. The green fiscal policies are needed to promote cleaner air. Some of these actions have been implemented or are implementing right now. The metropolitan public transport, although it can be improved, is very powerful and helps to improve the air quality and make sustainable mobility. Bonuses to cleaner vehicles, manufacturers of electric cars have more support, etc. This whole series of measures intended to align growth and progress."

Maria Neira, director of the Department of Public Health and Environment at the World Health Organization (WHO), would participate through a video: "on the last day of the WHO meeting has signed a landmark agreement to work on pollution and health issues. More than 7 million people a year die from exposure to air pollutants. A death of 8 has to do with air pollution. It is a great challenge. We will plan cities with a higher quality air and less noise. The health and other sectors will have this responsibility. This resolution calls for us to collect scientific data. Analyze what are the best initiatives to reduce air pollution and sharing among all WHO states members. The Barcelona Declaration is a key point to fight against air pollution."

Francisco Forestiere, advisor at the WHO on Air Pollution, Department of Epidemiology in the Region of Rome (Italy), said that "WHO has stated that air pollution is a problem that causes 600,000 deaths a year in Europe, being the greatest risk factor for public health. 2013 was declared the year of the air in Europe to raise awareness. In the last two years we have made some progress in research on air pollution: REVIHAPP study, the publication of the results of the ESCAPE study, etc. Air pollution affects several organs and our health: not only affects the lungs and cardiovascular system, but affects diabetes and neurological development, including the lost of months and years of life in the most polluted cities such as Milan or Barcelona".

During the day the different experiences on plans for air quality in Europe, focusing in cities like Paris, London, Berlin, Barcelona, Milan and Florence were showed. After the session on the European and local perspectives on air quality and health, which intervened Josep Maria Antó, director of CREAL, Xavier Querolt, researcher at the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water from the Research Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), and Antoni Mateu, secretary of Public Health (Government of Catalonia), the positioning of the Declaration of Common Air Quality, Noise and Health of Barcelona/Catalonia were presented.

Report by: Raul Toran.


Communications Manager:
Raül Toran

(+34) 93 214 73 33
(+34) 696 912 841


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