UNDP breathes life into clean air initiatives

April 14, 2023
Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Maral Rakhimzhanova

The first sensemaking session called "Breathing City: Clean Air in Almaty Through Joint Efforts" took place under the City Experiment Fund initiative, hosted by the UNDP Accelerator Lab in Kazakhstan. The meeting brought together around 40 individuals from various sectors, including government, business, education, and non-profit organizations, all working to address air pollution in Almaty.

Air pollution in the city is a multifaceted issue that demands a comprehensive, systematic approach for a resolution. It is essential to consider not just pollution sources but also climate, transportation, economy, society, politics, and legal factors. As such, the answer to this ongoing challenge must be both holistic and dynamic, engaging all involved parties.

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Ardak Satbaev

The event encouraged a lively and open exchange of ideas and the examination of innovative solutions for Almaty's air pollution problem. Participants discussed existing challenges, proposed solutions, and potential collaborative opportunities in environmental matters.

In preparation for the event, UNDP experts and consultants from international consulting Dark Matter Labs conducted research and interviews with key players in the field. This information was presented to attendees during the meeting for discussion and prioritization. Current initiatives, such as a study on the impact of new urban constructions on air flows and pollution, were shared, and new ideas were proposed.

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Ardak Satbaev

A standout moment of the day was a conversation with Professor Frank Kelly, a leading expert on the problem of air pollution in the world, who spoke about London's successful strategies, including congestion charging zones and ultra-low emission zones. Dark Matter Labs experts also shared insights from other global cities combating pollution and ecological threats.

The expert discussion led to the identification of priorities, cooperative methods, and collaborative approaches for addressing Almaty's environmental issues. The gathering provided an opportunity for experts with diverse backgrounds to share their ideas. Many agreed that more such platforms for open dialogue on urgent ecological topics are needed.

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Ardak Satbaev