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To address clean air crisis, cities can fast track recent innovations and replicate successes from around the world

(New Delhi, India) – Poor air quality is responsible for more than 5 million deaths a year, and with more than 55% of people living in urban areas globally, action by cities is critical to addressing the growing health crisis. Today, at the World Sustainable Development Summit 2020 in New Delhi, organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Bloomberg Philanthropies and Vital Strategies launched “Accelerating City Progress on Clean Air: Innovation and Action Guide,” a guide to fast-tracking proven approaches and innovations. The publication provides a step-by-step approach for city governments, outlining four critical priority areas for action: Monitoring air quality; assessing emissions and sources; expanding data access and use; and engaging governments and partners to develop and implement action plans.

“Unless India urgently adopts long-term strategies to address air pollution effectively, we are doomed to repeat the associated health crisis of this past season year after year,”  said Dr Sarath Guttikunda, a lead contributor to the guide and head of urbanemissions.info, a leading repository of air quality information in India and the region. “This guide identifies recent data and resources that each city can use to address their challenges, both shared and unique, and make rapid progress. Poor air quality shouldn’t drive us indoors, depriving us of a full life of opportunity, productivity and health. This is a solvable problem, and I urge cities to use this guide to commit to action today.”

The guide draws on lessons learned from successful urban clean air initiatives including New York City, Beijing, Bangkok and Hong Kong. For example, interventions by the New York City and state governments saw a 70% reduction in sulphur dioxide levels in just five years. Best practices and progress from cities in early phases of air quality management and political commitment, such as Battambang and Accra, are also highlighted. In addition, the guide addresses the roles of cities in local action as well as regional, state and national policy and implementation.

“Cities, centers of creative governance, intellectual and civic life, are also home to growing civil society movements pressing for clean air and other environmental improvements,” said Daniel Kass, Senior Vice President for Environmental Health at Vital Strategies. “The guide can help local governments respond to these demands with good science, logical planning and inclusive and transparent action. Each year, air pollution takes a huge public health toll and more children experience harm that can affect their future health and productivity. City governments can be powerful agents of change that speeds progress towards clean and healthy air for all.”

“Air pollution has constant, adverse repercussions on communities around the globe, and we must act now to mitigate its effects,” said Ailun Yang, head of global air pollution programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “By helping cities identify feasible, near-term solutions, this guide will empower governments to quickly build more sustainable, comprehensive clean air management plans at the local, national and regional level. Cities are hubs of innovation and ingenuity, and by making faster progress on clean air goals, they can lead the way in improving lives.”

To read the full report, please click here.

For more information about Vital Strategies’ work on Air Pollution and Health, visit: https://www.vitalstrategies.org/programs/air-pollution-and-health/

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible.

To find out more, please visit www.vitalstrategies.org or Twitter @VitalStrat.

Media Contacts

Christina Honeysett: choneysett@vitalstrategies.org; +1 914 424 3356

Nicole Han: nhan@vitalstrategies.org; +65 98281538