1st Prize: A2P Energy – India

Agri to Power (A2P), India directly addresses the issue of crop burning during the early winter months across the Indo-Gangetic plain. By setting up a Clean Energy Trade Platform, it provides end-to-end support starting from biomass identification to processing and use of the identified crop stubble.

A2P uses satellite data to identify raw material (crop stubble) that is available during the peak months. Using this data, A2P connects farmers to agri-waste buyers who convert the stubble into green fuel. The platform further connects these agri-waste buyers with companies that require this fuel for their energy fulfilment.

Through their efforts, A2P has saved 1,600 metric tons of paddy from being burnt.

For more information: https://www.a2penergy.com/

2nd Prize: Steamhouse India Limited – India

Steamhouse India is pioneering the concept of the community boiler system where it uses steam derived from burning of alternatives to fossil fuels like refuse derived fuels. The steam from this is then supplied to a number of industrial clusters. The company has been in operation since 2014, providing services for different manufacturing setups such as Textiles, Pharmaceutricals, and food processing.

Working primarily out of Gujarat, Steamhouse India has been strategically placing community boilers at the heart of factory clusters. By providing a community setup, the boiler has reduced the amount of emissions of gases like sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides. It also helps companies save their cost in buying more fossil fuels by using this central boiler system. Steamhouse India is also in the midst of exploring cleaner fuels to power its boilers like bio-mass waste, and industrial waste. It plans to shift to 50% biofuels by 2050.

For more information: https://steamhouse.in/

3rd Prize: Daira Sabz Environmental Consulting Services – Afghanistan

Daira Sabz has been working with the Department of Engineering (Afghanistan Government) to install filters on heating systems in Kabul. This filter helps reduce emissions from households using coal for heating and cooking purposes.

The filters are being piloted right now for seven large apartment buildings in Kabul, which amounts to 780+ people directly linking their emissions to the filtration setup. The cost for each filter amounts to anywhere between USD 2,000-3,500. When in operation, it targets the finer particles generated from the combustion of coal. The current setup is said to be seven times more cost efficient than other comparable solutions. Residential sector is an important contributor to air pollution in the IGP-HF and very limited solutions exist for this sector.

Honorary Mention: Agro Stubble Management Pvt. Ltd. – India

Agro Stubble Management plays a crucial role in converting leftover stubble from rice crops. During the month of November, rice is harvested across the state of Punjab, India, to be stockpiled for later use in domestic and international markets. The resulting biomass from this harvesting is generally burnt, leading to smog and particulate matter being released. Each year, roughly 7–8 million metric tons of biomass is burnt as a result of poor biomass management practices.

Using this biomass, Agro Stubble Management manufactures products like packing trays, false ceiling tiles, and other packaging material. The immediate use and demand for these products in the market is immense. Other parts of the HKH are in a position to either subscribe directly to these products, or setup local industries leading to manufacturing of similar bio-mass byproducts.

Honorary Mention: Prof Dr Zhiyuan Cong – China

Although air pollution is a persistent problem in the HKH, more science-based research inform decision makers of the extent and impact of this threat. Dr Cong’s research endeavours on air quality monitoring is an inspiration to other researchers that look to fulfil data gaps on air quality in the HKH. Dr Cong’s team has worked extensively on tracking of pollution sources across the HKH, leading to data being published in high impact and influential publications including ICIMOD’s Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HI-MAP) Report.

In his pursuit, Dr Cong has worked closely with institutions from outside of the HKH, to truly build a collaborative effort in understanding this transboundary risk. This quality of research has led to notable institutions such as the UNEP citing his work on linkages between biomass burning and aerosol impacts as well.

Honorary Mention: Prasesh Pote Shrestha – Nepal

Across the HKH, large-scale construction projects also contribute to air pollution emissions. For growing economies like Nepal, construction adds a significant challenge as the sector contributes dust particles that lead to particular matter being suspended in the atmosphere. But there are best practices emerging from on-going construction work on the Mugling-Pokhara Highway. As part of the first phase of the project, Shrestha, who is the Environment Focal Person from the China Communications Construction Company, has been implementing a site-specific environment management plan (SSEMP) to control the spread of dust and other pollutants being emitted from the on-going construction work.

The SSEMP has activities including sprinkling of water along the 41 kilometre stretch, storage of waste material under mesh and tarpaulin, and training of workers on proper safety and occupational health guidelines. Bioengineering projects and compensator plantation are also being carried out to promote carbon sequestration.


Air pollution is causing irreversible damage to not only people, but also ecosystems all over the world. In the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), air quality indices across cities show a downward decline in quality over the past two decades. This is caused largely by a high rate of emissions from households, industry, and transportation. Research also shows that these emissions, mixed with air pollutants coming from neighbouring regions of the HKH, also accelerate the melting of glaciers.

Although the region’s geography and prevailing atmospheric conditions means that it is perfectly placed to bear the brunt of polluted air, there are many innovators across the HKH who are working to make clean air a reality – entrepreneurs, researchers, community mobilisers, and innovators that have lived through days of bad air and want to do something about it.










The call for Clean Air Prize

To better support this community of trailblazers, ICIMOD inaugurated its first Clean Air Prize on Clean Air Day 2023. Tying into the 74th United Nations General Assembly’s resolution on improved air quality, the prize called on people and organisations across the HKH working to reverse the trend of worsening air quality.

We wanted to hear from the ecosystem of innovators including those working in clean cooking, transport, agriculture, and other industries. The prize is a stepping stone in ICIMOD recognising the promising technological and social solutions coming out of the HKH region. In the short run, we recognise and celebrate the achievements of many wonderful innovators who are pushing the boundaries on air pollution mitigation through answers that are scalable and adaptable to the myriad air pollution problems seen throughout the region.

In the long run, we hope to develop a community of innovators, thinkers, and actors who are working towards bringing back blue skies in the HKH. ICIMOD’s Action Area on Stimulating Action for Clean Air, also looks to invest in a few promising solutions, creating an ecosystem for scaling up these solutions in our member countries.