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Breathing Uneasy: Regional Response to Air Pollution in South Asia

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South Asia is at the epicenter of ambient air pollution—pollution people are exposed to outside their households. According to the latest World Air Quality Report, 2020, of the top 40 most polluted cities in the world, 37 are in South Asia. Air pollution in the region is a health hazard and represents the third-highest risk for premature death, as compared to the ninth highest cause in Western Europe. Overall, it contributes to around 11 percent of all deaths, and approximately 40 million disability-adjusted life years in South Asia. Air pollution, however, is not a localized phenomenon. It is transported across borders, and its effects spread to places far away from the source. This requires a country-wide, inter-state, and a regional response.

Join our sixth #OneSouthAsia Conversation, which will focus on the ways regional cooperation can help achieve a shared vision of healthier and cleaner air in South Asia. This builds on our previous Spring Meetings event on Air Quality Management in South Asia in April, and our regional workshop organized by South Asia Cooperative Environment Program earlier in March 2021. Both discussions underpinned a shared South Asia Clean Air 2030 vision, with coordinated local, national, and regional efforts. 

This conversation is also part of our collaboration with four other multilateral development banks (MDBs), with whom we are bringing out a joint publication to promote regional cooperation in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific. Our partners are the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Islamic Development Bank. The joint MDB publication reaffirms our shared commitment to responding to the pandemic and supporting the region to build back better, greener and more connected.

The World Bank is contributing a chapter on Ambient Air Pollution and Public Health in South Asia. The contributory chapter is based on the forthcoming WB flagship report, Ambient Air Pollution and Public Health in South Asia. The report is supported by UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, through the Program for Asia Resilience to Climate Change, a trust fund administered by the World Bank.