Europe's Toxic Air to be Discussed at a Unique International Conference in the Czech Republic

14.11.2018 - OSTRAVA
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PHOTO: Pixabay.com

A three-day gathering in this Czech industrial city will examine the ways to resolve the dangers of air pollution on the national and international levels (1). Environmentalists, together with business, governmental, and regional representatives will seek a mutually agreed conclusion. The conference is being convened by the non-governmental organisations Arnika and Ecoaction (2) at Ostrava University next week – from November 19 to 22.

A press briefing will be held on Monday, November 19 at 12:30 (3)

The first-of-its-kind 'Fighting Air Pollution in the Industrial Cities of Europe' conference held in the north-east of the Czech Republic brings together over twenty environmental experts from eight countries, together with authorities and representatives of heavy industry.

A standpoint on Czech air pollution will also be presented by the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and Czech Environmental Information Agency (CENIA) and the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic, focused mainly on the system of air pollution controls and monitoring that is in use. On top of that, legal issues and the impact on human health will be discussed by Petra Andrášik from Frank Bold and Radim Šrám from the Czech Academy of Sciences, respectively (4).

Air pollution is borderless
Italy, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Armenia will share their points of view in terms of air pollution. The agenda, together with the list of attendees itself, makes the event unique, since such a gathering of larger numbers of NGOs has never been arranged before. Another country in question is Ukraine, from which several local activists will attend the conference. The Eastern European country suffers from serious air pollution, which kills tens of thousands every year (5). The situation is especially critical in the industrial cities of Mariupol, Zaporozhye, Kharkiv, Dnipro, and Kryvyi Rih.

According Tamara Kharchylava, a lawyer from the Kiev-based NGO Ecoaction, pollution is one of today’s great existential challenges. “The huge economic consequences aside, air pollution alone kills 4.5 million people every year,” she states, reminding us that the deaths attributed to pollution in general are triple those from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. “The goal of the conference is for the countries to inspire each other to provide their people with healthy breathing conditions,” Kharchylava concludes.

Former hotspot, now an example
The venue city of Ostrava, the capital of the Moravian-Silesian Region, is an example of a successful civic campaign for clean air. Once the heart of the Czechoslovak metallurgical industry, Ostrava was one of the country’s worst-polluted cities. Thanks to pressure lasting almost three decades, the situation improved significantly.

“We hope the story of Ostrava will be inspiring for the attending parties, encouraging them to agree on specific steps to resolve the situation in Europe,” concludes Martin Skalský, the chair of Arnika – Citizens’ Support Centre, on his expectations for the meeting’s general declaration.

The conference is organised under the auspices of the vice-governor of the Moravian-Silesian Region and the deputy mayor of the city of Ostrava, in cooperation with Ostrava University and thanks to financial support from the Transition Promotion Programme of the Czech Republic, Global Greengrants Fund, Moravian-Silesian Region, and the City of Ostrava.

Contacts for media:
Martin Holzknecht (Arnika), press officer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (+420)602 850 912

Valentyn Pugakhov (Ecoaction), press officer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Kateřina Krejčová (Arnika), event coordinator: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Notes for editors:

(1) In total, twenty panels on air pollution will be presented in Ostrava. See the full agenda here.

(2) Arnika is a Prague-based non-governmental organisation established in 2001 and uniting people seeking a better environment. Since its foundation it has become one of the most important environmental organisations in the Czech Republic, with three key pillars: engaging the public, professional arguments, and communication with the media. In 2018 Arnika has been focusing on improving air conditions for the people of Ukraine through the analysis of contaminated sites. Read more...

Ecoaction (Екодія) is a civil society organisation that unites the efforts of active and concerned people in a joint struggle to protect the environment through advocating sustainable energy, opposing dirty industrial enterprises, and supporting local communities in defending their environmental rights and seeking to participate in decision making. Read more...

(3) The press briefing will be attended by:

  • MUDr. Radim Šrám, DrSc.  Head of the Department of Genetic Ecotoxicology of the Institute of Experimental Medicine of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
  • doc. Ing. Petr Jančík, Ph.D. – Head of Department of Environmental Protection in Industry, Faculty of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering, Technical University of Ostrava
  • Martin Skalský – expert on public participation and environmental democracy, Chairman of Arnika, Head of the Arnika – Citizens’ Support Centre (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
  • RNDr. Jindřich Petrlík – Head of the Arnika – Toxics and Waste Programme, lead campaigner for toxics free future (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

(4) Activists from various countries, environmental experts, authorities and business representatives will present their views on the issue. Check out who will be speaking at the Ostrava conference via the list of participants here.

(5) According to the data of the World Health Organisation, Ukraine ranked first in mortality from air pollution per capita, with 54,507 deaths in 2012, as 120 per 100,000 capita. China tops the WHO list for deadly outdoor air pollution (Theguardian.com)

This year, the non-governmental organisations Arnika and Ecoaction, together with the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague, conducted an analysis of samples from the above-mentioned industrial cities in Ukraine. The results are expected by the end of the year. Read more at: Czech experts are collecting new data on air pollution in Ukraine (Arnika.org)

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