In 2016, approximately seven million premature deaths globally were attributable to air pollution. Of these deaths, 91 percent occurred in low and middle-income countries. According to the 2020 World Air Quality Report, of the top 40 most polluted cities in the world, 37 are in South Asia. As a result of this, and many other concerning factors, in 2021, the UN Human Rights Council recognised for the first time that having a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a basic human right, thereby calling for bold action by states to ensure their citizens have access to a healthy environment.
Awareness about air pollution is highly limited in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan public has not had access to comprehensive air quality data until recently. This has hindered the ability of Sri Lankan researchers to carry out studies that help understand and mitigate the impacts of air pollution. Recognising these gaps, and the need for increased dialogue and awareness on air pollution in the country, Verité Research in conjunction with the US Department of State hosted a virtual workshop on air quality on the 21st and 22nd of March 2022. This workshop brought together air quality experts from across the South Asian region and the United States to develop pathways for dialogue, draw on our neighbours’ experiences and address important gaps within the field of air quality, with the goal of sharing knowledge and promoting professional networking across the region.
The event was moderated by Verité Research and featured a diverse set of local and foreign experts and key stakeholders (from sectors such as public health, policy analysis, and communications) to share their knowledge and exchange experiences on air pollution management. The speakers included Dr. Ranil Dhammapala (US State Department, air quality fellow), Professor Mike Bergin from Duke University, Dr. Gayan Bowatte from the University of Peradeniya, community health expert, Dr. Sumal Nandasena and Director of Urban Emissions, India, Dr. Sarath Guttikunda, among others.
The links to the event recordings are below:
Disclaimer: Readings of some sensors are not updated due to prevailing situation (power outages and economic constraints) in Sri Lanka.