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5 December 2019

How hosting the FIFA World Cup could help to improve Qatar’s air quality

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Conference at QF focuses on how environmental measures ahead of major sporting events can have widespread and long-term benefits

In three years’ time, all eyes will be on Qatar, as the world’s biggest sporting event – the FIFA World Cup – comes to the nation. And given the influx of football fans from around the world that the tournament will attract, Qatar’s approach to environmental quality, health, and sustainability is becoming increasingly relevant.

Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), part of Qatar Foundation member Hamad bin Khalifa University, is a key contributor to the country’s efforts in these areas. And as part of its inaugural International Conference on Sustainable Energy-Water-Environment Nexus in Desert Climate, it led a discussion on air quality during mega-events and how Qatar can utilize past models and case studies to build its own framework for the FIFA World Cup.

In collaboration with the Clean Air Asia Institute, QEERI brought together experts from China, who discussed how successful models for air quality management have been deployed at previous mega-events such as the Beijing Olympics 2008, or EXPO 2010 in Shanghai. The session was chaired by Mohammed Ayoub, Senior Research Director at QEERI’s Energy Center, and Dr. Fu Lu, China Director at Clean Air Asia.

Ayoub discussed the extensive research QEERI conducts in the field of air quality, having set up monitoring stations across the country while preparing detailed monthly reports on air quality for policy-makers in Qatar, while Dr. Wei Wan, Clean Air Asia’s China Air Quality Program Manager, cited Beijing’s hosting of the Olympics to illustrate how hosting mega-events can improve the air quality of both host and neighboring cities, and help to sustain this improvement.

“We found that Beijing’s air quality improved significantly during the year the Olympic Games were held, but also that measures taken for these events can have long-term positive effects,” she said. “The air quality management policies and frameworks developed for the event can be sustained for longer periods, resulting in better management.

“Regional coordination and partnership also has an impact on making these systems last. Shanghai and its neighboring cities in the Yangtze River Delta are an excellent example of that.”

There is a need for true scientific understanding and policy implication in Qatar, to get an idea of primary sources of pollution, so measures can be taken accordingly.

Dr. Kebin He

Dr. Kebin He, Professor and Dean of Environment School at Tsinghua University, explained the technological systems used to manage air quality during key events in China, while Dr. Min Hu, a professor at Peking University spoke about particulate matter pollution control and how the scientific understanding of air quality management has an impact on policy frameworks.

“There is a need for true scientific understanding and policy implication in Qatar, to get an idea of primary sources of pollution, so measures can be taken accordingly,” he said.

The session also saw Dr. Qingyan Fu, Professor and Deputy Director of Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Centre, and Dr. Ting Yang from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, present the air quality forecasting and modeling system used by China during key events.

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