Countries seeking solutions to paralyzing traffic jams, like the Philippines, must also curb air pollution, which can slow economic growth, experts said Tuesday.
Air-pollution-related diseases cost the global economy $225 billion in lost labor income in 2013 according to a World Bank study released this year. Seven million people die prematurely every year from diseases linked to dirty air, the World Health Organization said.
Experts at an Asia Development Bank (ADB) forum on transportation said addressing air pollution would require sustainable traffic systems, a shift to clean energy and proper waste management.
“We have to encourage cities to develop in a more compact, multiple use in a manner that lessens dependence on motorizations in the first place, so people can go about day to day needs without having to rely on vehicles,” said Clean Air Asia board member Elisea Gozun.
Governments should have the political will to plan to clean the air in the long term, said Jorge Kogan, senior adviser at the Development Bank of Latin America.
“In the end, despite small group of intellectuals like banks, NGOs— the general public is not very interested in air quality. Politicians they choose are doing very little,” he said.