June 2022

UN Environment Programme, with support from Paytm Foundation, has launched the Air Quality Action Forum (AQAF) - the first of its kind platform with a vision towards addressing the issue of air quality in a collective manner. The AQAF was launched on December 13th, 2021 with the aim to bring together all relevant stakeholders. The Forum Launch had high-level participation from different stakeholders; Mr N. P. Gangwar, (Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change), Mr Atul Bagai, (UNEP India Country Office Head), Ms Dechen Tsering (Regional Director, UNEP- Asia and the Pacific Office), Mr. Vijay Shekhar Sharma (Founder and CEO, Paytm), and Dr. Valentin Foltescu (Senior Programme Management Officer UNEP/Climate and Clean Air Coalition Secretariat) and other participants from different agencies and organizations.

As part of the forum different stakeholders under six pillars of the corporate sector, expert institutions (including NGOs, CSOs, Academia), international development agencies, international philanthropic organizations, national philanthropic organizations, and the UN system of organizations— are to be brought together on a common platform to support efforts of the Government of India (GoI) in improving air quality and its management. Additionally, as part of AQAF, wider stakeholder engagement will be facilitated by UNEP to undertake better coordination with the MoEFCC in achieving the broader national goals set forth under NCAP.

Stakeholder discussions across 6 pillar groups will be conducted to identify perspectives on various issues concerning air pollution in India and the possible solutions that could lead to its reduction in the short and long timeframes. The inputs from various stakeholders on challenges, gaps, needs, and possible solutions will be compiled into a report to be shared during the Forum Convention scheduled around mid-2022. To know more about the forum contact CERCA IITD or unepindia@un.org.

July 2022

With a vision to boost coordination within the air quality community at a national scale, UNEP, with assistance from the Paytm Foundation, has established the Air Quality Action Forum (AQAF). The Forum has been setup to become an all-inclusive platform that aims to give all the participating stakeholders a common gathering place to interact, learn from and share with each other, with the hope that these collaborations will result in fulfilling India’s national mandate, support in the alignment of the AQAF with the vision of MoEFCC, bring to light the work being done in various sectors by various organizations, to set up the ‘Solution Centre’ as part of its immediate support to the MoEFCC that would provide ad-hoc and immediate support to the latter, and to facilitate the development of scalable solutions to lower air pollution in India.

As part of its first phase, after AQAF’s launch in December 2021, consultations with the stakeholders for all six (6) pillars of AQAF were carried out. Separate meetings were held in hybrid mode with Indian Expert Institutions (non-Government), Indian Expert Institutions (Government), International Philanthropic Organizations, Corporate, and National Philanthropic Organizations, UN Agencies and development partners, and International Development Agencies and Embassies on the 7th, 9th, 13th, 15th, 16th, and 17th June 2022, respectively. These consultations were organized to conduct a need assessment which included aspects related to the work that each participating organization is undertaking, the challenges that they are facing, other issues that are of priority to them, and what can be the possible areas/ approaches to moving ahead with the air quality management (AQM) work.

Some broader aspects like implementation challenges, capacity gaps of the stakeholders at various levels, interdepartmental and inter-organizational collaborations, wider knowledge and awareness generation, funding constraints, and limited in-roads with the local government departments and agencies emerged as some of the larger issues across most consultations.

Besides the core consultations under the 6 pillars of the AQAF, a separate consultation was also organized for all the pollution control boards (PCBs) on June 24th, 2022, through hybrid mode. The aim of this consultation was to better understand the viewpoint on various air pollution-related issues, ongoing activities, and initiatives, and the challenges encountered by the PCBs. It was evident that because of differential resources, manpower, and infrastructure across all PCBs, there is marked variation in the output of each of the PCBs. Most importantly, however, the representatives from each PCB did request UNEP for support in capacity building of its regulatory and other support staff working in the air pollution area.

All the feedback and suggestions from these important stakeholder meetings are being compiled into a detailed and comprehensive need assessment report for understanding the challenges, gaps, needs, and synergistic solutions to further the work of AQM under the AQAF. This report will be brought out at the Forum Convention, which is tentatively scheduled to take place on 7th September 2022.