Valley Mayors Commit to Clean Valley Air

   TwitCount

As winter sets in, air pollution in Kathmandu Valley is re-emerging as the biggest environmental challenge it faces, presenting a daily struggle for its citizens. Elected authorities of the local government are under intense pressure to address this complex problem.  

Air pollution in the valley can be significantly reduced with coordinated action based on scientific evidence. To facilitate such action, Clean Energy Nepal (CEN) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), in collaboration with Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Lalitpur Metropolitan City, hosted a Mayors’ Summit on Air Pollution on 25 October 2018.

The two-hour event included experts’ briefings on the current scientific understanding of air pollution, on the possible solutions that municipalities can implement, and on the regulatory framework within which the municipalities can work. Speaking at the programme, Chiri Babu Maharjan, Mayor of Lalitpur Metropolitan City said, “In a span of 20 years, Mexico City has gone from being among the most polluted cities to among the most livable ones. This can be a major lesson for us in the Kathmandu Valley.” 

A major highlight of the programme was when Melba Pria, the Ambassador of Mexico to India, shared with participants relevant experiences from Mexico City. Mexico City is geographically very similar to the Kathmandu Valley – a bowl shaped valley with multiple municipalities. Twenty years ago, its air quality was the worst in the world, but the city has since made remarkable improvements. Ambassador Pria spoke about how this was achieved, providing inspiration for similar efforts in Kathmandu. She said “Change is possible. In 1992, WHO reported just 8 good air quality days in Mexico City, the corresponding number in 2012 was 248 days! This did not happen overnight. Between 2008 and 2012, 72 municipalities worked closely at local, federal, and central levels to transform approaches in industries, transportation, the emission standards, and public perceptions. Coordination at all levels was very important in the course of developing public policies, and decisions were always based on solid scientific data.”

The representatives of the Kathmandu valley municipalities have committed to work together in coordination with central and provincial governments for clean air and related issues. As the next step, the recently formed Integrated Municipal Level Coordination Council with representation from all18 municipalities are to work together for air quality management in the Kathmandu Valley. The mayors have pledged to initiate dialogue around seven priority points, and to further develop them into an action-oriented Declaration for Clean Air upon which all municipalities can act upon:
  • Prioritize waste management, prohibit waste dumping in public spaces, ban open waste and agricultural waste burning, and take stringent action when required.   
  • Set definite timelines for completion of different construction activities (road, sewage management, drinking water) ongoing in the city and monitor them effectively.
  • Make the city cycle and pedestrian friendly and promote greenery, recognizing the benefits on human health.
  • Make public transportation effective, prohibit polluting vehicles, and facilitate proper traffic management to lower vehicular emission and work towards promoting sustainable urban mobility in Kathmandu Valley.
  • Effectively monitor and implement National Air Quality Standards to reduce emissions from industries.
  • Achieve the above mentioned in accordance with the expectations of the townspeople, and deliver quality and result oriented outcomes.

Mayors, Deputy Mayors, and the Chiefs of the Environment Divisions of the 18 Municipalities in Kathmandu Valley, representatives from central governmental bodies, key stakeholders, and media participated in the programme.