Metro Manila, PHILIPPINES – Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga highlighted the importance of international cooperation in addressing air pollution today at the Media Day of the Airborne and Satellite Investigation of Asian Air Quality (ASIA-AQ) held in Clark, Pampanga.

The ASIA-AQ project, led by the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is an international collaborative research initiative with South Korea’s National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER), University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), and the Philippines’ DENR, Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), Manila Observatory and the University of the Philippines.

Air pollution is a major global issue that poses significant risks to human health, leading to chronic heart and lung diseases, lung cancer, stroke, and respiratory infections. Secretary Loyzaga said that working together will contribute to a better understanding and management of air pollution, which ultimately protects the health and well-being of the populations of the participating countries.

“Furthermore, it contributes to the climate crisis and hastens global warming. With the world in need of cleaner air, governments are now working to prioritize preventing air pollution as an essential solution to one of the most pressing environmental problems in the world,” Loyzaga said. “By utilizing the data and knowledge provided by this mission, we can enhance our air quality monitoring systems, develop evidence-based policies, and implement effective measures to improve public health and combat climate change,” she said.

According to Loyzaga, the project will benefit Filipinos in several ways. It will enhance air quality monitoring through access to advanced air quality monitoring techniques including satellite data, ground-based observations, and atmospheric modeling tools. Improved monitoring capabilities will result to accurate and comprehensive assessment of air pollution that will help the local government executives implement interventions to address air pollution hotspots.

By participating in the collaboration, the Philippines can also learn from the experiences of the other countries in the region and contribute its expertise, leading to more efficient and comprehensive air quality management approaches.

Loyzaga added the project can help policymakers and government agencies gain access to advanced research findings and analysis, enabling evidence-based policy-making and targeted interventions. This can lead to the strengthening of air quality regulations, the implementation of effective emission control measures, and the development of sustainable strategies for improving air quality in the country.

Five engineers and air quality specialists from the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) will join top NASA scientists on board the scientific research flights from February 11 to 15. “The EMB team of young and dedicated engineers and air quality specialists will join the flights to learn and observe so we can build technical capacity and expertise,” Secretary Loyzaga disclosed earlier.

ASIA-AQ project in the Philippines is under the Joint Understanding of the DENR and NASA, represented by Loyzaga and Gilbert R. Kirkham, respectively.
“To complement the project, DENR will also be enhancing its air quality instrumentation network this year, made possible by the 2024 national budget and by partnerships with development partners,” Secretary Loyzaga said. ###