It is expected to contribute to solving transboundary environmental and public health problems in the region
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, January 16, 2018 — The Ministry of Environment of Korea, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, and the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Western Pacific signed an agreement to set up the WHO Asia-Pacific Environment and Health Center in Seoul on January 15 at the Seoul Global Center. To be located at the Seoul Global Center, the Asia-Pacific Center is scheduled to start its official work from May this year. Currently only one regional center of its kind is in Europe, and the Asia-Pacific Center in Seoul will be the first to be opened in Asia Pacific.
The Asia-Pacific Center is established to secure scientific information and evidence on the effects of environmental pollution and climate change on health in the region, providing guidelines and policy directions for reducing environmental pollution and enhancing health, as well as strengthening environmental health capabilities in the region. The Center consists of three teams – Air Quality, Energy & Public Health; Climate Change & Public Health; and Water & Living Environment. They will conduct researches specialized on health effects of environmental pollution, such as transboundary fine dust in Northeast Asia, climate change, living chemicals and water pollution.
Meanwhile, an international symposium commemorating the upcoming opening of the Center was held at the same place by the National Institute of Environmental Research, a research agency operated by the Ministry of Environment. Dr. Wilfried Kreisel, former Director of WHO Centre for Health Development, at the symposium advised the Asia-Pacific Center to promote cooperation among member countries and serve as a technical information base (database) that can be used in the region. Dr. Michal Krzyzanowski, a visiting professor at King’s College London, emphasized that the key to the success of the Asia-Pacific Center in terms of air quality improvement is regional communications about environmental health.
Minister Cho Myung-rae of the Ministry of Environment said, “We successfully attracted a WHO’s Asia-Pacific Environment and Health Center that specializes in scientific and global insights and expertise to build up a healthy society for humans while protecting them from environmentally harmful factors.” He added, “Just as the Center in Europe has contributed to the international community by providing fine dust standards, we expect that the Asia-Pacific Center will also exercise its expertise and leadership in solving environmental problems, such as fine dusts that could damage across the border.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-Soon said, “Seoul enacted the Environmental Health and Community Right to Know Act in January 2018 to provide legal grounds for environmental health policies. We are now considering a preparation of master plan for environmental health and an establishment of Environmental Health and Chemical Information Center.” “With 31 international organizations located in Seoul and domestic and global network of environment and public health sectors, we are committed to making the Center play as a hub of Asia in the field,” added the Mayor.