In a two-day workshop convened by Dr. William Avis and Prof. Francis Pope, from the University of Birmingham, and Prof. Mukesh
Khare, from the India Institute of Technology, Delhi, the delegates urged for a
new approach to tackle air pollution;
they wanted air pollution to be considered as a disaster, in the same
way as natural events such as earthquakes and forest fires.
step further, the conference described access to clean air as a basic human
of Birmingham experts have joined forces with policy makers and researchers in
India, and beyond, to call for a new approach to help resolve health, social
and economic problems associated with air pollution in Delhi and other
similarly polluted regions.
at a two-day workshop called for air quality metrics to be incorporated into
several of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, most notably SDG3 – Good
Health and Well-being.
at the workshop launched a special scoping study which highlights the health
threat to an estimated 46,000 or more people living and working on the streets
team led by Dr William Avis and involving Monika Walia and Dr Bidhu Mahapatra,
from Population Council – India, studied several locations. They discovered
that pavement dwellers were frequently exposed to severe or hazardous levels of
particulate matter (PM) air pollution which could lead to conditions such as
acute or chronic lung disease – one of the most common causes of death among
this group of citizens.
India (A Systems
Approach to Air Pollution India) workshop brought together partners from India,
Africa, Asia, Europe and US to explore how cities such as Delhi can better
understand how to tackle air pollution.
IIT Delhi (IITD), All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI), Population
Council – India, and Urban Management Centre (UMC), University of Birmingham
experts led the workshop, which was attended by British Deputy High
Commissioner Jan Thompson.
Francis Pope, from the University of Birmingham, said: “Air pollution kills
millions and costs the world economy billions - tackling the problem is not
just a technological issue, but a social-economic and social-political
challenge that requires a new approach.
University of Birmingham is working with partners in India, Africa and Asia to
help understand how our cities can tackle problems caused by air pollution.
Many conference delegates were surprised there is no SDG specific to clean air,
but there is plenty of scope to include clean air action many of the SDGs.”
Mukesh Khare, from IIT Delhi said: “It is vital that we find solutions to the
global threat posed by air pollution. It is more than just a health risk; it
slows our countries’ development, diminishes the quality of life and reduces
quality need not have its own UN Sustainable Development Goal, but is extremely
important for SDG3 – ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all.
Placing air quality metrics in relevant SDGs could help to improve life for
millions of people.”
contributors to air pollution in Delhi are vehicles; construction, road dust,
burning of solid waste, crop burning in Northern Indian states and, during
experts from multiple countries, including Kenya (University of Nairobi),
Uganda (Uganda National Roads Authority), Ethiopia (Ethiopian Public Health
Institute) and a range of cities of the global south, including Dhaka and
Deputy High Commissioner to India, Jan Thompson OBE, commented: “Air pollution
is a challenge shared by many countries and major cities across the world. The
UK has recently launched a new Clean Air strategy for the UK. The problem is
particularly acute in India and Delhi because of the pace of development and
the specific meteorological and geographical conditions.
multi-pronged effort is needed to understand the sources and processes causing
this pollution. We are working with Indian partners on joint research that we
hope will contribute to better understanding the processes that determine air
quality over Delhi, providing new and key insights into pollutant sources,
emissions, transport mechanisms, and health impacts in order to develop better
informed mitigation options.”