The TrickyScribe: Aware that the protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue affecting the well-being of people and economic development throughout the world, the United Nation designated 5 June as World Environment Day and the day provides us with an opportunity to broaden the basis for an enlightened opinion and responsible conduct by individuals, enterprises and communities in preserving and enhancing the environment.
World Environment Day – INDIA
World Environment Day urges governments, industries, communities and individuals to come together to explore renewable energy, green technologies and improve air quality in cities and regions across the world. The theme this time in India is ‘Hawa Aane De’. India has formulated and launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). This is a long term time-bound national level strategy and tackle the increasing pollution problem across the country. The objective of NCAP is comprehensive plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution besides augmenting the air quality monitoring network. The tentative national level target is reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by 20% – 30% by 2024.
The pollution we are supposed to breathe in is dependent on many factors including access to clean energy for cooking and heating, the time of day and the weather. Nobody is safe from this pollution, which comes from five main human sources.
These sources spew out a range of substances including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ground-level ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons, and lead–all of which are harmful to human health. Also, rush hour is an obvious source of local pollution, but air pollution can travel long distances, sometimes across continents on international weather patterns.
TERI SAS organizes #BeatAirPollution
TERI School of Advanced Studies (TERI SAS), which also serves as the regional adviser for UN Environment Education and Youth Alliance organized a daylong workshop on #BeatAirPollution at TERI SAS campus to mark World Environment Day 2019.
This is part of the four-month long engagement, an initiative to reach out to the community to make them aware about the problems emanating from air pollution and develop action plan to tackle it. The workshop set the stage for an interactive discussion on ways to sensitize and educate masses especially youth on air pollution issues, measures taken at community and school levels towards promoting awareness and integrating environmental education in school curriculum.
In his message, Head, UN Environment – India, Atul Bagai, shared “Research, sound policies, monitoring and effective implementation, forms the bulwark of any environmental action. Education cuts across all these pillars. UN Environment’s joint initiative with TERI SAS to educate and raise awareness on air pollution with teachers and students is a great endeavour to help Beat Air Pollution.”
It is estimated that 92% of the people worldwide do not breathe clean air and out of 7 million people who die annually due to air pollution, 4 million of them happen to live in the Asia-Pacific region. Manjeet Singh Saluja, National Professional Officer (Environment and Public Health), WHO, India, emphasized upon the need to treat air pollution as a health emergency.
It needs to be ensured that everyone’s involvement in this multi-sectoral issue where youth can be the torch-bearers of knowledge dissemination. A community approach would bring in not just greater awareness but also people’s participation to combat pollution, in their homes, in the communities they live in and their workplaces.
Valentin Foltescu, Senior Programme and Science Officer, Climate & Clean Air Coalition and UN Environment, India in his opening address reiterated the fact that air pollution is a global urgency impacting all especially, unborn babies, children and women. He further added that air pollution is now everyone’s concern and each one is a stakeholder. The economic costs involved are tremendous. Tackling air pollution requires concerted and focused actions by making simple yet global, collective and sustainable choices.
Incidentally, a recent report released by Greenpeace and AirVisual reveals that 22 of world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India with Delhi being the most polluted capital in the world. Dr. Leena Srivastava, Vice Chancellor, TERI School of Advanced Studies, in her address lamented the lack of long-term strategy and a sustained effort to tackle air pollution in cities, including Delhi. This is despite the fact that air pollution touches our lives more closely and adversely than a number of other issues that bring us to the streets in protest or attracts political attentions.
‘Combating Air Pollution’ panel discussion chaired by Valentin Foltescu comprised panelists Dr. Shashi Ranjan, Director, PERSAPIEN, Sunil Dahiya, Clean Air Campaigner, Greenpeace, Ridhima Shukla, Correspondent, NDTV and Prerna Sharma, Project Officer, Clean Air Asia. The discussion highlighted social, economic and health impacts of air pollution and the role communication, social media and institutions can play in mitigating the issue. For the benefit of the wider audience, the event was webcast live on the internet and witnessed participation of people from across the globe.
Teachers, youth and practitioners during the breakout sessions deliberated on action each group can take at the institutional, community and individual levels to combat air pollution. While the workshop helped in developing an understanding of the cause and impact of air pollution, it also created a sense of responsiveness among them to combat the issue through improved technology, lifestyle, behavioral changes and integration of exercises on environmental education with specific focus on air pollution in school and college curriculum.
Philips, one of the sponsors of the workshop and the ongoing campaign by TERI SAS & UN Environment organized live demonstrations of air quality monitoring equipment and air purifiers for the participants to get a real-time experience of the technology being used for measuring and abating air pollution.
Tide Turners-Young Leaders Plastic Challenge India, a youth initiative by UN Environment, WWF-India and Centre for Environment Education was also launched to address the issue of plastic pollution on World Environment Day. Radhika Suri, Director of Environment Education, WWF and Kartikeya Sarabhai, CEE Indiawere present during the launch and spoke about the initiative and its objectives.