Urban95 Global Convening on Air Pollution Impact on Toddlers
The Bernard van Leer Foundation convened a gathering of people for supporting healthy early childhood development in the cities of India. The focus of the event was the importance of clean air to support healthy early childhood development. The India event was an extension of the Foundation’s Urban95 Global Convening that brings together a diverse range of people from the early childhood field and beyond to make new connections and generate practical ideas.
The Urban95 India event brought together government officials, urban practitioners, and other experts in the fields of city planning, urban design and planning, construction, air quality, health, and early childhood development to share knowledge and ideas towards cleaner air for the healthy development of babies and toddlers. The event was conducted in collaboration with the Clean Air Fund and the World Resources Institute India.
Activities conducted prior to the convening focused on supporting cities to practice measuring and mapping street-level urban air quality through handheld tools and mobile devices. Many cities, including Pune, Udaipur, Kohima, and Surat participated in the Urban95 India Convening. In India in 2019, it is estimated that nearly 1.5 lakh children below the age of five died due to lower respiratory infections (LRIs) primarily caused by poor air quality.
Participants from cities spoke about emerging solutions, including more widespread and systematic monitoring of air quality, particularly in areas where there are high concentrations of young children, as well as reducing emissions through waste recycling, creation of more green spaces, real-time communication of air quality to citizens. City officials, with the support of WRI India, monitored, measured and analysed air quality data, before discussing potential solutions at the Urban95 India convening.
Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary and Mission Director (Smart City Mission), MoHUA said, “With 25 Indian cities plus lighthouse cities such as Pune and Udaipur implementing pilot projects to improve access to Anganwadis, public health centers, and maternity hospitals for young children and their caregivers, there is an opportunity for coordinated efforts to measure, monitor and improve air quality around such facilities.” Rushda Majeed, India Representative of Bernard van Leer Foundation highlighted how air quality is one of greatest challenges of our times, and the impact of air pollution is even more in infants.
The objective of Urban95 Global Convening was to bring to the forefront the importance of clean air for babies and toddlers, and facilitate the exchange of knowledge and ideas among cities to improve air quality.
Urban95 is an initiative created in 2016 by the Bernard van Leer Foundation to help change the landscapes and opportunities that shape young children’s lives. Central to this initiative is the question “If you could experience the city from 95cm, what would you change?” Working with city leaders, planners, architects, and innovators, Urban95 is helping bring this perspective to the center of design decisions in cities around the world.