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New Clean Air Plan aims to improve health in Pakistan’s Cities

September 2021

Many cities in Pakistan have air quality that is considered unsafe according to the World Health Organization’s guidelines. In fact, the cities of Lahore and Karachi have made the list of the top five most polluted cities in the world. Significant sources of air pollution for the country include transportation, industrial emissions, and crop burning. This is causing significant health issues for urban residents such as increased incidence of respiratory diseases and aggravation of existing conditions such as asthma. Some research has also shown air pollution can reduce life expectancy by as much as two and a half years.

To tackle the issue, the Government of Pakistan has launched the new Pakistan Clean Air Plan (PCAP). The PCAP will implement systematic monitoring of a range of policy, technological, and management-based measures to fight urban air pollution. The PCAP was prepared with the support of the ADB Technical Assistance project on “Strengthening Knowledge and Actions for Air Quality Improvement” which is funded by the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Poverty Reduction and Regional Cooperation Fund. The project aims to improve air quality and liveability in seven Asian cities including, Peshawar and Sialkot in Pakistan.


The PCAP was announced at an ADB event in June 2021. At the event, Malik Amin Aslam, Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC) Minister, said that the PCAP would help to co-ordinate air quality improvement efforts to ensure they would be implemented effectively at the local level. Importantly the PCAP will be overseen by a new Clean Air Secretariat that is being established by the MOCC. The Secretariat will play a co-ordinating roll and have access to funds from the federal governments, donors, and lending agencies, and facilitating coordination between federal and provincial institutions.


Emphasizing ADB’s commitment to air quality improvements in Pakistan, Shixin Chen, ADB Vice-President (Operations 1), presented several other ADB investment projects in the country under the transport, energy, and urban sectors. He confirmed ADB's continued support to Pakistan to ensure that the country’s economic recovery will be consistent with longer-term low carbon, resilient, and sustainable pathways.

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