Experts from the University of Birmingham and researchers from India announced a collaboration Wednesday to jointly develop strategies to resolve health, social and economic issues linked to air pollution in Delhi. Delegates at a two-day workshop, convened by experts of the University of Birmingham and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, 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.
The experts recommended that air pollution be treated as a disaster, in the same way as natural events such as earthquakes and forest fires. It also called for access to clean air to be considered as a "basic human right".
Francis Pope from the University of Birmingham said that air pollution kills millions and costs the world economy billions and 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," said Pope. The ASAAP 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.
"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 incomes. "Air 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," Professor Mukesh Khare from IIT Delhi said.
(With inputs from agencies.)