Addressing Air Pollution effectively requires strategic, integrated Approaches in Sarajevo


Addressing air pollution effectively requires strategic, integrated approaches and solutions that are appropriate to the specific city or geographical context and various actors. A single sector or institution cannot solely undertake the extensive work involved in AQM given its cross-cutting nature.

Experiences from other countries that are making progress in tackling air pollution show that an integrated approach is required. By supporting these countries, the World Bank has demonstrated its ability to play an integrative role through bringing together and fostering dialogue between, and engagement of, various country and international stakeholders and supporting crucial analytical work to inform investments and policy and institutional actions for AQM.

The design and implementation of economically effective interventions to successfully reduce air pollution must be underpinned by a sound foundation of analytical work to inform the selection of priorities and interventions and to set realistic and achievable air quality targets.

As may be seen from the Peru and Mongolia examples, such analytical work also provides a platform around which various relevant stakeholders, including, among others, the government (across different sectors and different levels of government), think tanks, academia, the private sector, and donor agencies, can engage and come to informed conclusions about possible interventions and implementation of an appropriate air pollution reduction program.

The government could consider setting interim air quality targets for ambient air quality concentrations of PM2.5 and understanding how various pollution contributors can engage in actions to achieve the set target, as part of a phased approach for bringing ambient PM2.5 concentrations down.

Conducting in-depth analytical work is often time intensive and could span several years, requiring adequate budgetary resources. It is recognized that in many contexts, the severity of air pollution and its health impacts as well as public pressure on government and city officials to act may call for interventions in the immediate to short term to reduce air pollution. In such cases, a city could consider applying reasonable interventions and policy options that would help alleviate air pollution in the short term such as restricting pollution from known stationary sources or traffic restrictions.

However, such short-term actions are unlikely to be able to effectively reduce air pollution in the long term, in particular where air pollution sources are many and varied, and cannot replace a strategic and integrated approach involving rigorous analytical work and engagement of various relevant stakeholders across different sectors (e.g. environment, energy, transport, economy, agriculture etc.), development partners, academia, and others, to inform design and implementation of economically effective interventions for sustained or long-term air pollution reduction.

BiH, together with neighboring countries, could establish a knowledge platform for collaboration on transboundary air pollution. Although most of the pollution in BiH is from domestic sources, the transboundary contribution is important (at 20 percent). To maximize the synergies between similar or shared air quality-related problems, BiH could consider setting up, together with neighboring Balkan countries, a Balkan Knowledge Platform on transboundary air pollution.

The knowledge platform could begin with coordination and knowledge sharing on technical aspects related to transboundary air pollution and gradually broaden the scope to collaboration on measures to address transboundary pollution based on experience and knowledge gained through interaction on the platform.

Benefit-cost analysis should be used to provide an informed basis for prioritizing and selecting interventions to reduce air pollution from different sectors. The interventions for tackling air pollution in different sectors are generally well-known, for example, promoting cleaner fuels, implementing district heating, and introducing transportation interventions.

However, it is important that economically effective interventions are selected, which have a benefit-to-cost ratio greater than 1. In other words, the health benefits of an intervention—that is, avoided cost of premature mortality and morbidity—should be greater than the cost of implementing the intervention. It is recognized that such analysis should take into account existing policy and operational constraints that could foreclose or limit the implementation of certain air pollution reduction interventions.

The experiences of different cities around the globe show that in addition to technical interventions, a menu of instruments, including market-based, economic, and command-and-control instruments, are needed to effectively reduce AAP.

Examples from Peru, Mongolia, and China illustrate the types of interventions that have had a strong impact on reducing air pollution, over different time frames, and may provide useful lessons for BiH as it strives to reduce air pollution. Cities in the aforementioned countries have successfully used a variety of instruments in their efforts to reduce air pollution, including market- based instruments, economic instruments, command-and-control instruments, investments in technical interventions, and policy and institutional reforms.

It is important that strategies and interventions to reduce air pollution do not disproportionately burden poor and vulnerable groups of people. Poor people are more likely to drive older, polluting vehicles. Poor people are also more likely to burn cheap and highly polluting fuels for domestic purposes.

Therefore, policies that prohibit the use of old, polluting vehicles in favor of newer, clean vehicles could incorporate financial or other suitable incentives for poorer people to comply with the policies. Similarly, programs to promote replacement of polluting stoves with clean, efficient stoves should incorporate incentives that will help low-income households’ transition to burning cleaner fuels.

It would be important to take into account distributional and social impacts of a ban on coal heating, if implemented, on affected populations in different income groups. Poverty and social impact analysis could be used to understand distributional impacts of policies to reduce air pollution to ensure that the poor and vulnerable are not disadvantaged by actions resulting from those policies.

Several development partners are supporting BiH’s efforts to reduce air pollution, and stronger in- country coordination could help optimize this support. The technical assistance of development partners (for example, the World Bank, WHO, U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, Government of Sweden, Embassy of Switzerland, UN Environment, United Nations Development Programme, and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development [EBRD]) has been instrumental in a number of advances being made in the areas of emissions inventory, monitoring, health impacts, dissemination of data, and abatement measures.

Though very valuable, BiH has much work ahead to put in place structures that will allow it to successfully address its highly polluted air. The lack of coordination and harmonization and central authority for AQM is part of the root problem holding the country back in its efforts to address pollution. Without strong coordination, relevant institutions cannot create a policy and enforcement landscape that effectively controls pollution as severe as that in BiH.

There is a need to take stock of the outcomes of development support on air pollution and to identify opportunities where investments and policy and institutional actions can scale up impacts on air quality supported by appropriate financing mechanisms. The work of the abovementioned development partners and others has been instrumental in advancing progress on AQM in BiH.

Stocktaking of the outcomes of the ongoing donor-supported activities and identification of opportunities and financing mechanisms should be coordinated among donors and conducted in collaboration with the government. Furthermore, the air pollution problem is significant and cannot be resolved without sustained government commitment combined with targeted policy actions; strong and adequately resourced institutions at all levels of government, particularly at the local level where the impacts are most felt; and sound planning and investments underpinned by rigorous analytical work.

Government commitment is needed to ensure that institutions responsible for reducing air pollution are strong and well-staffed, supported by adequate budgetary resources, and are able to undertake sound planning and investments underpinned by requisite analytical work.

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