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Air quality under the spotlight at Sarajevo Film Festival

UN Environment has joined forces with  Sarajevo Film Festival to raise awareness of the importance of clean air in Bosnia and Herzegovina – home to some of Europe's most polluted cities.


The latest scientific knowledge on the Sarajevo’s air quality, a live demonstration of instruments to monitor pollution, a slow bike race, free bike sharing and much more took place as part of a dedicated ‘Enviro Day’ organised at the festival under the second such partnership.


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. World Health Organisation findings state that air pollution costs the country $7,228 million, or 21.5 per cent of national GDP annually.


"Air pollution is an invisible killer and a hidden limiting factor to the GDP growth of Bosnia and Herzegovina," said UN Environment Regional Director for Europe Jan Dusik on Enviro Day, 17 August.


"Yet solutions stemming from district heating, public transport systems and energy efficiency in general are easily available and can boost the local economy while improving the quality of life of Bosnians. The partnership with the Sarajevo Film Festival is vital in spreading this message among the general public and local population," he underlined.


Earlier in 2016, UN Environment 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.


As a result, accurate data is available in real-time to monitor climate change and announce pollution alerts to the general public, as well as to measure the impact of policy measures to improve air quality.


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.


A project launched by Banja Luka with UN Environment 'in January' will modernize the city’s heating network and could reduce fuel consumption by 27 per cent, leading to a reduction of 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and €4.5m in fuel cost savings.


The main culprits behind Bosnia's air pollution are emissions from traffic; household stoves; and local heating, using heavy fuel oil, and high-intensity energy used to power industry. Air pollution has since been identified as one of the two greatest health threats in the pan-European region together with climate change by UN Environment’s sixth Global Environment Outlook report.


For more information on Enviro Day please click here or write to

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