Thailand’s Supat Wangwongwatana is the recipient of this year’s Kong Ha Award for Excellence in Air Quality Management. The Kong Ha Award was established in 2008 to honor the memory of the late Kong Ha, who served as the chairperson of the Clean Air Initiative For Asian Cities (now Clean Air Asia) from December 2004 to April 2007. The award recognises those who are responsible for the formulation of air quality management-related policies and their day-to-day implementation in Asia. The award was presented today at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center in Busan, South Korea, during the IUAPPA World Clean Air Congress and CAA Better Air Quality Conference.
Supat has more than 30 years experience in environmental management, environmental quality control and environmental policy planning. He holds a doctorate degree in Air Pollution Engineering from the University of Cincinnati. He was formerly the director general of the Pollution Control Department of Thailand and is currently senior program specialist/senior policy and technical advisor at the Regional Resource Centre for Asia and the Pacific at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand.
In accepting the award, Supat recalled that at that time, it seemed impossible to clean up the air quality in Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. Solving air pollution in Bangkok was a big task, a “mission impossible,” he said. The work to improve Bangkok’s air quality began in the 1990s by reducing harmful emissions from vehicles and introducing new fuel quality standards in Thailand. Higher vehicle emission standards also were introduced, he said. Mandatory vehicle inspection and maintenance programs were implemented and roadside pollution inspection began.
“The improvement in fuel standards commenced in the 1990s, by moving away from lead-based fuels and on to Euro 3 and then Euro 4, which was implemented in 2012. In adopting Euro 4 emission standards, Thailand became the most progressive ASEAN region,” said Supat. But the work is never done, he said. He revealed that Thailand is now looking at upgrading its fuel quality and vehicle emission standards to either Euro 5 or Euro 6, with a target implementation date of 2020.