Punjab University (PU) Institute of Zoology’s Professor Dr Zulfiqar Ali attended the partners’ meeting titled “strategies to protect the vulnerable population from air pollution exposure & impacts” for building a partnership for regional collaborations among South Asian countries at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) head office at Kathmandu, Nepal.
In a briefing, Dr Ali said that in recent decades, the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region has seen rising emissions of air pollutants from urban, industrial and rural sources. He pointed out that there was a growing concern about the deteriorating air quality affecting visibility, changing atmosphere heating and cooling, polluting the stratosphere, depositing light-absorbing substances onto snow and ice surfaces and melting the cryosphere.
He stated that this had wide-ranging impacts on human health and livelihood. He said that rapidly growing urbanization coupled with air pollution had severe consequences for the large population-based in the cities in the HKH region. He explained that an exploratory study was completed in three cities i.e. Lahore, Pakistan, Kathmandu, Nepal and Mandalay, Myanmar to understand the nuances relating to the impacts of air pollution at the household level for vulnerable occupation groups like drivers, street vendors, laborers and traffic wardens.
He said that the workshop brought together stakeholders working on societal and justice aspects of air pollution which has helped in fostering a collective understanding of the issues pertaining to the region and created an enabling environment to develop strategies and engagement mechanisms for action. According to the press release, the meeting of partners started with the sharing of expectations from the collaborations to lead the path for future work in the field of air pollution research in the HKH region.
The expectations can be summarized into three broad talking points as per the discussions. Collaborative research and knowledge-sharing and creation have been emphasized by most of the participants as the cornerstone of the partnership. Working towards protecting vulnerable population groups has been the motivation of this collaboration with social and environmental justice forming a pivotal part of this. Last but not the least, engagement in devising strategies and policies that lead to action in the entire HKH region has been envisioned by the group.