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Air quality management in the Indo-Gangetic Plain and Himalayan Foothills


Thimphu, Bhutan

Date & Time

26 June 2024 to 27 June 2024

About the event

Effectively tackling air pollution across the airshed of the Indo-Gangetic Plain and Himalayan Foothills (IGP-HF) requires significant national efforts at local, province and state levels, as well as committed transboundary cooperation. In light of this, the Himalayan Resilience Enabling Action Programme (HI-REAP) of ICIMOD is organising the second Science-Policy Dialogue (SPD) on Air Quality Management (AQM) in collaboration with the Royal Government of Bhutan and the World Bank.


The objectives of this Science-Policy Dialogue are to:

  • Discuss and acknowledge principles for cooperation for structured/institutional arrangements to facilitate transboundary AQM in IGP-HF
  • Strengthen knowledge exchange between countries and sub-national governments in the region on key AQM topics
  • Highlight financing opportunities to mobilise common AQM actions at scale


An airshed is a geographic area where air quality is influenced by local topography, meteorology, climate and varying sources of emissions. Such areas are managed by one or several administrative authorities, from local to district, state and national level. Spanning Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, the IGP-HF airsheds are a collection of the world’s largest, most densely populated airsheds, and a global air pollution hotspot.

In many parts of the region, both urban and rural, air pollution has reached alarming levels. Several cities in this region are often featured among the world’s top ten most polluted cities. High levels of air pollution seriously affect the health of millions of people, particularly women, children, and the elderly; in each of these groups, the poor are the most vulnerable. Air pollution also leads to reduced economic productivity, with welfare costs equivalent to around 10% of Gross Domestic Product.

While governments in the IGP-HF region, both at the national and sub-national level, are taking actions to tackle air pollution – more needs to be done urgently, on both air quality management planning, and implementation. It is also critical that transboundary coordination and cooperation on air pollution is enhanced, as it can support adoption of common measures which can lead to cheaper, quicker, and greater air pollution reductions.

The first Science-Policy Dialogue on Air Quality Management in the HKH airshed took place in December 2022, in Kathmandu, Nepal, with the signing of the Kathmandu Roadmap for Improving Air Quality. The SPD process provides a platform for the countries sharing the IGP-HF airsheds to engage in coordination and knowledge exchange on national AQM challenges.

Air pollution is a complex problem; however, solutions do exist, and many countries have cleaned up their ambient air pollution, generating lessons learned that are applicable to the region. In addition, the pollution from one country, or subnational area inside a country, may have a significant environmental and human impact elsewhere. Therefore, it is vital for the countries to coordinate their monitoring, planning, and abatement design efforts.