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The road transport sector is one of the main sources of pollution in cities. It also transforms public spaces into noisy and grey car zones, hindering active mobility. Transport pollution not only harms people’s health in many ways (e.g. respiratory, cardiovascular and nervous system impacts) but, with its infrastructure, can affect our mental health and behaviour.

In Poland, we have witnessed a constant growth of transport emissions with a significant decrease of public transport connections (both intercity and local) in the last 15 years. A quarter of cars in Poland are located in the five biggest agglomerations, where the number of cars per 1000 inhabitants increased in the last 10 years.

For two of Poland’s largest cities, Warsaw and Cracow, it is estimated that 75% of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions come from cars. Thus, the transport sector is a major contributor to air pollution in Poland, where poor air quality leads to 50,000 premature deaths annually.  In addition, the transport sector is a major contributor to climate change. The Polish government has not developed any coherent national policy which would address all aspects of transport pollution.

There is a clear need for local, national and also European decision-makers to act immediately to protect people’s health and the environment from transport pollution.

In September and October 2021 the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) invites participants from the health sector, non-governmental organisations and anyone concerned to a webinar series to consider the linkages between transport, physical and mental health and lifestyle diseases, especially in cities. With our guests, we will learn about recent studies on the harmful effects of transport on our health and how the health sector has been active to showcase the burden of disease from the transport sector.

At the same time, many mayors and city councils have taken action for healthy mobility and clean air in recent years, with e.g. increasing opportunities for walking and cycling; setting up Low Emission Zones or making public transport more comfortable and reliable. In the webinar series, we will therefore also share good practice on boosting residents’ health through changed urban mobility patterns.

There will be simultaneous translation English and Polish.

WEBINAR 1 – Transport, air pollution and health 

16 September, 5-6.30 p, CEST

This webinar aims to provide an overview on the extent of pollution from transport and the impacts on people’s health, especially in cities in Poland. We will be hearing about recent science on transport pollutants’ health harm (e.g.NO2) and learn how the transport sector in Poland contributes to the health bill, compared to the household and energy sectors.

Speakers include:

  • Levente Molnar, European Environment Agency
  • Prof. Artur Badyda, Politechnika Warszawska
  • Bartosz Piłat, Polish Smog Alert (Polski Alarm Smogowy)

The webinar will be moderated by Joanna Brzezińska, HEAL.

WEBINAR 2 – How active mobility and green cities can support tackling non-communicable diseases and strengthen mental health

14th October

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) or chronic diseases – cardiovascular and respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes – lead to the highest health burden in Poland and around the world. In the EU, they cause approx. 550.000 premature deaths per year and health care costs of € 115 billion annually.  Mental health conditions also add to the high burden of chronic disease.

The UN has recently recognised that air pollution is one of the leading risk factors for non-communicable disease, alongside unhealthy diets, tobacco-smoking, harmful use of alcohol, and physical inactivity.

In this webinar, we want to highlight the relationship between air pollution and non-communicable diseases, present new evidence on how poor air quality is linked to mental health conditions, and discuss why and how access to nature and green spaces can increase the physical and mental resilience of city residents.

Speakers include:
Dr Michał Brzeziński, PTPZ Polish Society for Health Programs in Gdansk
Dr hab Michał Jaśkiewicz, University of Gdańsk
Prof Marleen Kestens, European Heart Network
Isobel Braithwaite, University College London (UCL)

The webinar will be moderated by Weronika Michalak, HEAL.

 

WEBINAR 3 – Solutions and good practices for a healthy urban mobility

28 October

In recent years, a number of cities have taken action to clean up the air from transport pollution and change urban mobility. This includes Paris, where a 15-minutes city concept is being developed, the Spanish city of Ponteverda, which became a pedestrian’s paradise, or Vienna, where local transport can be used for 1EUR a day. Polish policy-makers can therefore draw from a huge good practice base, and some have already started doing just that. Polls show that Polish and European city dwellers support sustainable solutions like more green spaces, active mobility facilities and public transport promotion.

Speakers include:

  • Urszula Stefanowicz, Polish Ecological Club/Polish Climate Coalition:  Active mobility in towns – good practices
  • Dr Tadeusz Jedrzejczyk: Healthy mobility in the city of Gdansk, Poland
  • Anabel Gulías Torreiro, Deputy Mayor of Ponteverda, Spain:  A people-focused city

Register here