A project to improve air quality in the Mediterranean

The World Med Institute has gained the support of Marseilles, Valence, Tripoli and Aqaba for a project designed to improve air quality in these coastal cities, all of them faced with the simultaneous challenges of industrialisation and tourism.

MEDITERRANEAN. The World Med Institute has just taken on the leadership of a project designed to measure, then to improve, air quality in four large urban areas: Marseilles (France), Valence (Spain), Tripoli (Lebanon), and Aqaba (Jordan). “Few cities are equipped to implement effective measures,” observes Vincent Wallaert. The co-ordinator of the project at the World Med Institute explains that Gouv’airnance will make it possible to draw up an inventory of the existing resources and to define a measurement system which can be used in all the cities.

The challenge is significant: air pollution claims 400,000 victims worldwide each year. Everywhere health professionals are observing an increase in respiratory disease, though no reliable figure has been put forward. WHO estimates that “each day hundreds of millions of people suffer from chronic respiratory diseases”.

Air pollution also constitutes an aggravating factor in global warming. The Mediterranean is very severely affected by this phenomenon: “Urban development is concentrated on the coasts,” says the president of the World Med Institute, Henry Roux-Alezais. “And contrary to received ideas, the wind does not blow the pollution away. What is more, the sun accelerates the transformation of ozone.”

In collaboration with Atmopaca, the association responsible for measurement of air quality in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, the Mediterranean Institute proposes to link integrated management of air quality to the major challenges of urban governance: energy, transport, and climate.

€2m for three years

In Aqaba port activity is generating a great deal of air pollution. (Photograph F. André)
In Aqaba port activity is generating a great deal of air pollution. (Photograph F. André)
In Tripoli a laboratory for environmental monitoring has been fitted with equipment for measuring air quality. Lebanon has implemented a national measurement programme, but the final arrangements at local level have yet to be made. The same is true in Jordan: the commercial port of Aqaba is developing and generating pollution. At the same time the city, which enjoys special autonomous status, wants to continue to develop its tourism activity and cannot neglect the issue of air quality. Valencia, for its part, has no measurement tool of any type. Spain has no dedicated administrative body, nor does it have an effective model. Marseilles is behind in the process of modelling, but also in respect of communication to its habitants.

The year 2012 will see the drawing up of an inventory and the realisation of complementary mapping campaigns. From 2013 onwards measurement stations will be constructed allowing each city’s project to start up in 2014.

Gouv’airnance has a budget of almost €2m for the three years, of which 90% is financed by the European Commission. Six partners are participating under the leadership of the World Med Institute: the City of Marseilles and Atmopaca in France, the University of Valencia and the Institute of Construction in Spain, the Al-Fayhaa Urban Community in Lebanon, and the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (AZESA) in Jordan.

French version

Caroline Garcia avec l'Institut de la Méditerranée

Tuesday, October 30th 2012

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