Central Asian Countries Gather to Share Air Pollution Solutions


On June 19th a political and regional forum was organized in Tashkent under the slogan “Building a Clean Air Future in Central Asia”. The forum was organized in partnership with the Uzbek Ministry of Ecology, the World Bank, and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Participants included senior officials from the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

The forum was created to allow the countries of Central Asia to exchange knowledge on how to prevent air pollution. Air quality in both urban and rural areas is affected by transboundary pollution, caused by emissions from burning fossil fuels in industry, the heating sector, and transport. Another source of pollution in cities is sand and dust storms.

Most air quality-related illnesses and premature deaths in Central Asia are attributable to delicate particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM2.5). Their concentration in large cities is often several times higher than the permissible air quality parameters recommended by the World Health Organization. This is especially noticeable during winter, when the heating sector uses coal and gas for power. According to the IQAir portal, which monitors global air quality, Central Asian cities are often among the most polluted cities in the world.

The participants at “Building a Clean Air Future in Central Asia” studied each other’s measures and practices in air quality management. They then defined some priority directions for accelerating regional cooperation on these issues.

Valerie Hickey, the World Bank’s global director for environment, natural resources and the blue economy, commented: “Air quality management is a complex challenge that requires understanding where the pollution comes from and prioritizing actions in those sectors. This will take better data and stronger regulations harmonized across borders, credible institutions, and clean infrastructure. Working together, the countries can clean the air across Central Asia.”

Sylvie Motar, deputy director of the European office of the UNEP, added: “Air pollution knows no borders, so cooperation between Central Asian countries in this area is essential. This dialogue will help increase investments in clean air to protect the health of the people of Central Asia.”