Mayor of London praises international air quality exchange
The FIA Foundation was delighted to welcome the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to its student air quality exchange project in New Delhi on 5 December.
The FIA Foundation funded an air quality exchange project between London, Delhi and Nairobi schools, for students to learn about their environment and share their experiences.
Ten year olds from three schools participated in the exchange: Townsend School in South London; Maharaja Agarsain Public School in North West New Delhi; and Milimani Primary School in Nairobi.
Visiting the school during his tour of India, the Mayor met with students who demonstrated the air quality testing and performed a play on air quality as well a range of traditional welcomes.
Levels of nitrogen dioxide (NOx), a harmful pollutant that comes from vehicle exhausts, particularly diesel vehicles, were tested by students using a ‘citizen-science’ toolkit, measuring the air quality around their schools and local highways. Students learnt about the impact of air pollution to become ‘air quality champions’, raising awareness and promoting change in their local area.
Initial results of the exchange showed that Delhi recorded the highest levels of NOx, with even the lowest readings exceeding World Health Organisation guidance limits. In London, air quality around the school was close to the limit but major roads exceeded these guidelines. In Nairobi, however, testing suggested that the levels of NOx never exceeded recommended levels.
Citizen science is a powerful way of engaging communities in issue such as poor air quality and helps empower individuals to be a part of the solution. The educational programme was designed to teach children and parents alike about air pollution, enabling behavioural changes and empowering them to call for wider change.
The FIA Foundation’s international project used the work of the London Sustainability Exchange (LSx), with partner organisations Clean Air Asia in Delhi and UN Environment in Nairobi to set up the learning and exchange. It followed the development of LSx’s CleanerAir4schools toolkit, used by over 30 London primary schools following funding from the Mayor of London in 2013.
The exchange has enabled students to share their experiences with each other, learning about the similarities and differences between their cities and developing critical thinking about the ways to enable local changes to address the global challenge.
Sheila Watson, Deputy Director of the FIA Foundation, Said:
“We know how bad it is for our children to breath dirty air, and the terrible impact it can have on their longterm health and life chances. It is vital though that those who are most affected by the dirty air – children – also make their voices heard. Not only are the children learning about the science behind air quality, but they are also communicating with each other – literally across continents - sharing their experiences and joining their voices in demanding clean air and safe journeys to school.
“We at FIA Foundation add our voice to that call for action; we welcome the clear commitment of Mayor Khan to this issue in London and here in India; and we pledge ourselves to continue to support every child’s right to breath clean air, wherever they live or go to school.”
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Air pollution is a global problem that harms the lives of millions of people. Only by working together will we help beat this international health crisis and protect people from breathing in air so filthy it damages their lungs and causes diseases. I’m proud today to announce London and Bengaluru will be leading a new air quality partnership. We hope to work with key cities across the world and in India, including with our good friends here in Delhi.”