Air pollution costs the Middle East and North Africa tens of billions

The World Bank report indicated that the cost of air pollution, in addition to pollution of the seas and coasts, is “estimated at more than 3 percent of GDP” in some countries in the region, such as Egypt, Lebanon and Yemen, noting that “air pollution levels in major cities in the region are among the highest. In the world”.

“Productivity drops if residents are unable to work after they or their family members fall ill due to air pollution,” the report, titled “Clear Skies, Clear Seas,” states, “Health care costs can be a significant burden on individuals and governments.”

According to the report, a person residing in the region will spend at least 60 sick days during their lifetime due to air pollution and that urban residents are breathing on average more than 10 times the level of pollutants in the air considered safe by the World Health Organization.

The report considers that among the main causes of air pollutants are “low environmental standards” in the transport and industry sectors, “poor quality of fuel” used and “waste burning”.

The World Bank noted that “the Mediterranean is among the seas most polluted with plastic in the world,” noting that each person in the region throws an average of six kilograms of waste into the sea annually.

The report stressed that sea pollution is linked to coastal erosion, which threatens housing and “livelihoods, especially among poor groups,” noting that the estimated direct cost of coastal erosion may reach 2.8 percent of GDP in some countries whose economy is based on tourism. Like Tunisia.

“Polluted skies and seas are costly to the health, social and economic well-being of millions of people in the Middle East and North Africa,” said World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, Ferid Belhaj.

He added, “As countries in the region recover from the Corona pandemic, there is an opportunity to change their trajectory and choose a greener, bluer and more sustainable growth path in order to reduce emissions and reduce environmental degradation.”

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