Youth on the front line of the fight against air pollution

Youth had a vital role to play in the fight for better air quality, said Clean Air Asia India Director Prarthana Borah.

Speaking on “Youth Leaders and the Role of Youth in Advancing Air Quality” at the 1st South Asian Youth Summit in Bhubaneshwar from September 17-20, Ms Borah said there were three key areas in which young people could help improve air quality. The first was public engagement, with youth reaching their communities through awareness-raising campaigns. She cited Clean Air Asia’s Youth Clean Air Network (YCan) in India as a good example of such engagement.

“Our YCan volunteers have already conducted 4000 air quality public perception surveys in Delhi and Gandhinagar since the network’s launch earlier this year.”

The second way in which youth could work towards better air quality was through consolidated data that was focused on technological solutions and innovative ideas. And third, as future leaders across a range of spheres, their public engagement could help integrate air quality issues into such other issues as climate change and waste management.

Ms Borah said the challenges in Asia posed by deteriorating air quality – from high concentrations of particulate matter and health impacts to rapid urbanization and energy demands – needed to be looked at from a holistic perspective and be integrated into other sustainable development goals.

The summit, organized by the International Youth Committee in conjunction with the Government of India and Odisha Tourism, was themed “Creating a Sustainable Future: Empowering Youth with Sustainable Opportunities”. It drew more than 450 young leaders from 55 countries, including eight member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Maldives) and nine member states (European Union, Mauritius, China, Japan, Australia, the US, Myanmar, South Korea and Iran).