– On Feb. 24(Mon), Seoul concluded a MOU with Ulaanbaatar as parts of Seoul’s efforts to implement its ‘Comprehensive Air Quality Improvement Measures’
– Seoul is expected to conclude a MOU with other Northeast Asian cities, including Beijing in March
– A ‘Cooperation committee for air quality improvement’ will be established to serve as a control tower
– The two cities will be able to access the official air-quality information system of their counterpart, checking the concentration level of fine dust real time
– The best air-quality improvement policies will be shared though international seminars and working group discussions
– To enhance the capacity of their atmospheric experts, short-term training sessions, seminars, co-research, and conferences will be held in the two cities
– Seoul is committed to improving the air quality of the city through consistent exchange and cooperation, so that citizens can breathe a difference
In order to curb the ultrafine dust level in the city, the Seoul metropolitan government announced its plan last January to make coordinated efforts with major Northeast Asian cities. As parts of its efforts, Seoul concluded a MOU with Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, from which a large quantity of yellow dust is originated in every spring.
Last January, 28th, Seoul announced the ‘Comprehensive Air Quality Improvement Measures’, with a goal to lower the ultrafine dust concentration to the level of the advanced cities in other countries within 10 years.
Mongolia is located in the northern plateau of Central Asia, and its Gobi desert is the very origin of the Yellow dust, which entraps Seoul every spring.
“Given the fact that the air quality of Seoul is largely affected by air qualities of China and other neighboring countries in Northeast Asia, any air-quality improvement efforts by Seoul alone can do only so much. Furthermore, due to the heavy industrialization, urbanization and the climate change, those countries are increasingly turned to an arid land, which in turn, aggravates the problem. This is why the Seoul government decided to take coordinated actions with cities in Northeast Asia”, an official from the SMG said.
The MOU between Seoul and Ulaanbaatar was concluded at 9:30 a.m. on Feb, 24th, in the conference hall of the Seoul’s New City Hall Building, with the presence of Kim Sang-Beum, the director of Seoul administration department, and BATAA Nyamaa, the deputy mayor of Ulaanbaatar.
Seoul is expected to conclude a MOU with other Northeast Asian cities, including Beijing in the foreseeable future.
The major framework of the MOU consists of the following elements; to establish a ‘cooperation committee for air quality improvement’, to host related seminars and conferences as venues for working parties’ discussion, education, co-research, to share air-quality improvement policies, and to share real time air-quality information. The details of the cooperative measures will be decided after further discussion.
The cooperation committee for air quality improvement will serve as a control tower for the cause. Seoul and Ulaanbaatar became the first members of the committee. The committee will gradually grow in the number of member cities through further MOUs.
With the MOU, the two cities agreed to share real time air-quality information. Seoul and Ulaanbaatar will be able to access the official air-quality information system of their counterpart, checking the concentration level of fine dust (PM-10), ultrafine dust (PM-2.5), NO2, SO2 of the city atmosphere.
This will allow Seoul to preemptively respond to the problem before yellow dusts or ultrafine dusts of Ulaanbaatar reaches the city.
In addition, they will exchange best air-quality improvement policies though the ‘International Seminar for Northeast Asia Air Quality Improvement’, which has been annually held in Seoul since 2010, and the working group discussions.
At the same time, the two cities will step up cooperation for each sector to enhance the capacity of their atmospheric experts. Short-term training sessions, seminars, co-research, and conferences will be held for their city officials.
Kim Sang-Beum, Vice Mayor of Seoul administration department said, “Through the coordinated efforts between Seoul and Ulaanbaatar, Seoul will make effective responses to the inflow of pollutants from Northeast Asia, including smog from China. We will make consistent cooperation and exchanges to improve the air quality, so that citizens of the two cities can breathe the difference.”