Air Pollution

© Silvia Crespo

The Sustainable Development Goal number 13 compels us to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.  To address climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the COP21  on 12 December 2015. In the agreement, all countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius.  One of targets within the goals is to promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries. 

On 28 November 2016, UNESCO, very concerned about the air pollution in Nepal, has organized a brainstorming meeting to address the critical situation in the Kathmandu Valley.   

The consultations with presentations on air pollution and climate change in the country, brought together government officials, experts and activists from the region. The goal was to provide a platform to facilitate exchange of knowledge, experiences and follow up. 

Outcomes of the meetings

Awareness raising

·         Necessity to adapt awareness raising materials on air pollution into the cultural context of the country.

·         Importance of sending to the public a clear message on what steps to implement to mitigate the air pollution: concrete activities, actions, responses, etc.

·         Coordination of different sectors, organizations, civil society and NGOs on measurements and scientific data regarding air pollution. Bring a comprehensive but understandable knowledge to citizens and new generations about the impact of air pollution. Special focus on children at school level, UNESCO as one of the leading organizations to be involved in this matter.

·         Coordinate with the health field to provide current data on the impacts on health and advocate on the importance of contributing with daily life actions.

 

Public sector

·         Capacity building/ training of government officials to improve the work on the air pollution and climate change field:

o   Empowerment of police forces for a better application of law to reduce major transport emitters.

o   Commitment from the government departments and ministries to address the air pollution issue as a priority.

o   Strengthen municipality level with infrastructure and guidelines to be advocated among the society.

·         Empower civil society with structures that allow participation on policy making and societal contribution.

 

Waste management

·         Building communities on good practices to avoid burning waste and other practices that generate pollutant gases. Imitate examples of good management (Boudanath community), to transfer to other municipalities.

·         Provide with specific and feasible alternatives according to the context of the society to stop burning waste, reduce emissions from brick kilns and cement factories, without any detriment in their social resources. Implement adaptation and mitigation measures such as filters, replacements etc. so there is minimal impact on the employment, market activities or industry.

·         Promote positive implications and advantages of addressing the air pollution issue in terms of health. 

Further activities

·    Department of Environment: Final stage of preparation of Nepal Pollution Control Strategy and Action Plan.  Long-run plan to set up 56 monitoring air quality monitoring stations around Nepal.

·         Focus on 10-15 year targets to arrive at some goals and strategies for long term plans. Establishment of standards to conquer in the future in terms of mitigation measures.

·         Move from knowledge and talk to real action: be public role models to show effective changes and inspire communities. 

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