Air Pollution

Concept Note

Air pollution is a major problem that affects millions of people worldwide. Nine out of ten people in the world breathe polluted air which is causing about 7 million premature deaths annually globally. Rapid economic growth, population migration towards urban areas, and inadequate controls have led to degradation of ambient air quality, particularly in cities of developing countries like India. More than 75-80% of Indian cities violate the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS); 122 cities are classified as non-attainment cities. In order to address the issue of air pollution, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Government of India has launched the National Clean Air Program (NCAP) in January 2019, with the intent of 20-30% reduction in PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations by 2024 with the base year as 2017. The 2020-21 report of the finance commission recommended the grant of ₹4,400 crore to initiate actions listed in the NCAP. However, despite several initiatives of central, state and city governments, air pollution has remained as a major challenge in India.

In view of the enormity of the issue and latest actions taken, a plenary session in the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) is being organized with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies to discuss future air quality scenarios for developing countries like India. The session will have speakers of international repute discussing the key bottlenecks in effectively managing air quality in cities. The session aims to discuss national and international experiences on air quality management in cities and will also discuss the progress made, constraints faced and the way forward for faster and effective pollution control. The panelists from India are expected to discuss progress made and way forwards on the national and city level air quality management plans, while international speakers will share the experiences and learnings in past, some of which may be customized for Indian conditions. The session will have representatives of the finance commission, the newly formed Commission for Air Quality management in NCR and adjoining areas, academia and non-governmental organizations to discuss the future of air quality and possible ways to expedite actions for controlling pollution at regional and urban scales.

Guiding Questions

  • With growth on one hand, and pollution control plans on the other, where are we heading to in terms of future air quality in developing countries like India ?
  • What are challenges being faced for implementation of NCAP and how can the programme be further strengthened?
  • What are ways to ensure effective utilization of allocated funds for control of air pollution?
  • What are the key sectoral measures for control and implementation strategies at the national scale?
  • Can India learn and customize solutions from international experience ?

Contact Us:

  • Dr. Anju Goel, Fellow, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi, India, E: mail:
  • Dr. Sumit Sharma, Director, Earth Science and Climate Change division, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi, India, E: mail: