Bishkek's view from the mountains. Photo: sdgactionawards.org

Last Friday, a meeting on air pollution was held in Bishkek with the participation of representatives of the State Service for Environmental Protection and Forestry (SAEPF), ministries and agencies, as well as academics, the private sector and international organizations, including UNDP. The subject of discussions was the Agency's Plan for improving the environmental situation in Bishkek, Sokuluk and Alamedinsky districts of Chui oblast.

The meeting was opened by M.A. Amankulov, Director of the SAEPF, who pointed out that air pollution has become an urgent problem in recent years. He expressed his hope that the meeting will help all stakeholders to effectively discuss the next steps for the solution to this problem. 

Amankulov M. A - Director of SAEPF Photo: Chyntemir Kalbaev / UNDP Kyrgyzstan

Louise Chamberlain, UNDP Resident Representative, shared that air quality this winter in Bishkek was one of the worst in the world in terms of PM 2.5 particle concentrations, sometimes reaching almost twice the "dangerous level".

"PM 2.5 are tiny atmospheric particles that come from things like power plants, cars, aircraft, wood burning and forest fires. Because they're so small, these particles stay in the air longer, penetrate deep into people's lungs, and can even get into our bloodstream. Studies have shown a connection between exposure to small particles and premature death from heart disease/ lung disease. The Kyrgyz Ministry of Health estimates that almost 80% of respiratory diseases in Bishkek can be attributed to air pollution, contributing to the disease in over 300,000 children." - L. Chamberlain reported. 

 

The seminar was attended by the wide range of development organizations, including GIZ. Photo: Chyntemir Kalbaev / UNDP Kyrgyzstan

In conclusion, she noted that the UNDP intends to work closely with the Government, as well as with UN agencies and other development partners, to help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 13 on urgent action to combat climate change.

A plan to reduce harmful emissions was then presented, during which the speaker noted that coal burning was the main method of heat generation for both high-rise buildings and private ones. Reference was also made to harmful emissions from cars and diesel-powered vans. According to the speaker, this is the main air pollutant. 

Lira Zholdubaeva - UNDP's expert on climate change. Photo: Chyntemir Kalbaev / UNDP Kyrgyzstan

The next part of the meeting was devoted to the actions taken by international and commercial organizations. UNDP representative Lira Zholdubaeva briefed on the progress made by international organizations on air pollution.

The representative of Gazprom spoke in detail about the gasification and how it can save not only people's health but also their money. According to him, switching the heating system and cars to natural gas can halve harmful emissions, while the state and municipal budgets can save up to 1.3 billion soms.

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