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Raising a flag for clean air

UN Environment efforts to raise awareness in Sarajevo on the importance of clean air has focused on new generations with the launch of an initiative coinciding with the first day of the academic year.


White flags were raised across 75 primary schools in the Canton of Sarajevo from 1 September. Their material changes colour when affected by pollution, highlighting the issue in stark terms.


Poor air quality is responsible for 44,000 years of life being lost in Bosnia and Herzegovina every year, according to the European Environment Agency. The issue has spurred a number of UN Environment initiatives to combat the problem.


The Fatima Gunić school in the Bosnian capital launched the outreach work by being the first to raise one of the flags. "We acknowledge UNEPs efforts in improving air quality and stand ready to work further with our partners in both the environment and education sectors to promote clean air solutions," said Elmedin Konaković, Prime Minister of the Sarajevo Canton at a press event at the school attended by local media on 1 September.


"In order to raise awareness on air quality, we need to start from the foundations. It is therefore very appropriate that the flags are being raised today, the first day of the school year for children in Sarajevo" added Pier Caro Sandei, UN Environment Programme Officer.


A white flag was then unveiled at the school, which had also recently installed new energy efficient windows as part of a United Nations Development Programme project.


In August, UN Environment partnered with the Sarajevo Film Festival to organise EnviroDay – an event dedicated to the environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina held as part of one of the most important cultural festivals in the Balkan Region, involving live demonstrations of air monitoring, a panel discussion, a slow bike race and more.


Earlier in 2016, UN Environment also opened two new air quality monitoring stations in Bosnia and renovated two others. The two new facilities are located in the cities of Gorazde – where the safe threshold for solid particles has been exceeded 19 times since 8 December 2015 - and Prijedor. The two renovated stations are in Ivan Sedlo and Banja Luka.


Thanks to the new and refurbished stations, accurate data will be available to monitor climate changes and announce pollution alerts to the general public, as well as to measure the impact of policy measures to improve air quality. The latest data can be accessed by clicking here.


Two cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina have meanwhile joined the UN Environment-led Global District Energy in Cities Initiative. Banja Luka and Sarajevo form part of the programme, which supports national and municipal governments in their efforts to develop, retrofit or scale up district energy systems - one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


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