Train for clean air youth

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified climate change as one of the greatest health threats of the 21st century, and air pollution as the single largest environmental health risk. Poor air quality is a serious issue that affects the health of millions of people in India, particularly vulnerable groups such as young children, the elderly, and those with existing respiratory conditions. Presently, we face a range of challenges such as use of outdated technology in industries, poor fuel quality, lack of adequate monitoring systems etc. which adversely impact air quality.

CAA India has been extensively engaged in policy research, capacity building and outreach and communication activities to work towards better air quality in Indian cities. Through its YCAN initiative, it has established a solid and vital youth network that is passionate about improving air quality through the mediums of campaigns, surveys, coming up with creative solutions and much more.

To take this endeavor to the next level, CAA India organised the Train for Clean Air: Youth Workshop for Ideas, Impact and Innovation, on 26th September 2019 at the India International Centre, New Delhi. The objective was to enhance the youth’s understanding about the health risks of poor air quality, specifically amongst vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
The three key objectives of the event were to:
i) Generate interest amongst the youth to engage them in clean air action
ii) Motivate the youth to ideate for innovative solutions to address the air pollution crisis
iii) Sensitise the youth on various aspects to mainstream clean air action.
The workshop provided a unique platform for Indian youth to learn, ideate and contribute towards the larger goal of mitigating air pollution.

A total of 40 youths from different cities of India like Delhi, Agra, Nagpur participated in the workshop. The event commenced with a welcome note from Clean Air Asia’s India Director – Ms. Prarthana Borah, who spoke about the emerging issue of air pollution and how innovative ideation could help in tackling it and improving air quality in our cities.

Ms. Prerna Sharma, Education and Outreach Coordinator at CAA India spoke about Youth for Clean Air Network (YCAN) program of CAA, and explained how it is is a platform to engage young people in finding solutions for better air quality in Indian Cities. She further spoke about how YCAN is involved in creating awareness on air quality issues through diverse methodologies as well as finding local and innovative solutions to meet the challenge of air pollution.

Ms. Riya Rahiman, India Program Manager, Clean Air Asia India set the context and introduced the concept of “Monitors for Clean Air Cities”, wherein Clean Air Asia invites enthusiastic and passionate youth who can monitor their city and help the government and CAA in implementing Air Action Plans. Those selected for the position impact change first-hand by getting involved with concerned organisations and monitoring the implementation of air action plans at the city level. The monitors are responsible for creating reports and providing data to CAA.

CAA’s website “Clean Air Healthy Children”  was launched by Dr. B.C. Sabata, Sr. Scientific Officer, Department of Environment, Govt. of NCT of Delhi. It is an informational platform geared towards sensitizing children, parents and teachers on minimizing hazardous exposure to air pollution. The website also showcases Clean Air Asia’s work on air quality assessments in schools, sources of air pollution, related impacts, and assists schools in providing clean air spaces for children. CAA India is presently assessing the PM2.5 levels in outdoor spaces in schools in 3 cities in India and plans to continue its engagement towards clean air for schools to ensure the betterment of children’s’ health.

In line with this, Mr. Sabata spoke about the air pollution issue in Delhi and the need to work on both indoor and outdoor pollution. He urged youth and schools to monitor the air in their surroundings and look for solutions to lower pollution and seek alternatives such as renewable energy sources. He mentioned that while awareness is present amongst the people, there is an urgent need for noticeable action.

Youth Dialogue- Action of Air Pollution: Role of Youth Ms. Riya Rahiman moderated a panel discussion with renowned panellists who spoke on the role of youth and requisite action to fight air pollution and make our cities more liveable. The panellists spoke about topics such as communication and interventions to reduce exposure to air pollution, minimizing health risks, action through youth networks, technological solutions, the role of social media and engaging youth for action.
Innovative Ideation towards solutions to Air Pollution The members of the Youth Workshop were divided into groups for activity focused on innovative solutions towards solving the major problem of pollution in their cities. All groups worked together for 45 minutes and then presented their solutions. All the teams performed very well and team Ved Shakti was awarded as the winner.

The event concluded with remarks and a thank you note by Ms. Riya Rahiman, who requested participants to proactively become the members of YCAN and tackle the air pollution problem head-on.