As pollution reaches critical levels in the region, Asia faces an urban environmental crossroads. Poverty is falling on a regional basis, and living standards are improving, but the cost to the environment that ultimately has to sustain the population is significant. The continent is facing up to the need to develop more sustainable cities.

What is a sustainable city?

When we talk about ‘sustainability’, we are really discussing how to preserve our environment for future generations while meeting the needs of today’s population. For a city to be sustainable, it must minimise its use of precious resources like water and fossil fuels while reducing its output of waste and pollutants. Improved quality of life for its citizens is equally important to enhance public health and harmonise social well being. The global population tripled in the 20th century, and Asia’s urban population is set to increase from 1.9 billion to 3.3 billion by 2050 [1]. Combined with rapid economic development, there is a critical need to confront the challenge of sustainability and redress the balance in favour of the environment. Much can be achieved through the application of tried and tested technologies and practices to achieve sustainable cities, including the understanding that the waste which society produces can serve as a valuable resource and alleviate some of the pressures placed on the environment. This presents a compelling opportunity to create a new environmental roadmap for Asia and lay the foundations for long term sustainable development.



We cannot buy clean air in a bottle, but cities can adopt measures that will clean the air and save the lives of their people,

– Carlos Dora
coordinator for interventions for healthy environments at WHO

Smog-plagued cities

Poor air quality, caused to a great extent by motor vehicle emissions, is killing half a million Asians every year. The problem of air pollution is worst in urban areas, and over the next few decades alone, 500 million Asians are expected to migrate to cities [2]. In the Philippines, where Gazasia’s initial projects are based, inhaling polluted air is one of the leading causes of asthma, pneumonia and lung cancer [3], costing the government some PhP 7,100,000 for the supply of respiratory drugs. Studies have shown that 80 per cent of the pollution in Manila comes from fossil fuel powered vehicles. [4]. Read more about air pollution

Contaminated water

The problem of pollution in Asia isn’t limited to smog. Poorly operated and maintained landfill and solid waste disposal sites leach pollutants into streams and groundwater. This has left many cities unable to deliver potable water – particularly where the population has increased rapidly and the infrastructure is strained [5]. Read more about water pollution

Climate Change

Transport CO2 emissions are forecast by the International Energy Agency to grow by 54% in Asia between 2006 and 2030, compared with 38% growth in the rest of the world [6]. This is driven by the anticipated six-to-eight-fold increase in the number of light-duty vehicles and a large increase in the number of trucks. Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions of the world to climate change. The region faces an intense challenge to balance economic growth and the need to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Read more about climate change

Reducing waste and protecting land resources

Rising consumption rates across Asian cities are estimated to generate a staggering one million tons of waste per day [7]. Reducing the quantum of organic waste is essential to curb rising methane emissions that are contirbuting to climate change. Growth in Asian economies is placing intense pressure on fossil fuel and land resources in the region to generate energy for transport. Read more about Reducing waste and protecting land resources

Seeking a solution

It’s not all bad news. Governments and businesses across the region are facing up to the crisis, and striving to find solutions to their environmental challenges. Gazasia’s waste-to-fuel projects can play a part in this, and we’re proud to be working with our partners in South East Asia to build a more sustainable future for the region’s cities. Find out more about Gazasia’s products

[1] World Urbanization Prospects, the 2011 Revision – UN Dept of Economic and Social Affairs

[2] BAQ 2010 press release

[3] GMA News

[4] Philippine Daily Inquirer

[5] ‘Towards a Sustainable Asia’ – Science Press Beijing 2011

[6] Reducing Carbon From Transport Projects – Asian Development Bank 2010

[7] UNEP State of Waste Management South Asia 2011

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