Air pollution is a major cause of premature death and disease and is the single largest environmental health risk in Europe, causing around 400,000 premature deaths per year. The report released in June 2019 by the UN Environment Program and prepared in cooperation with the World Health Organization shows that the three cities – Skopje, Bitola, and Tetovo – were ranked in 2017 as among the top ten most-polluted in Europe with conditions worsening tangibly and measurably over the past five years. In particular, major sources of air pollution in Skopje are: heating (32%), industry (20%), followed by transport (19%), construction (12%) and waste (7%). Action-reaction is the current form of communication between the citizens and the government. Increased citizens’ activism and decreased level of trust in institutions’ ability to solve it is the consequence of not-doing-much. Individual businesses’ interests and corruption, among others, underpins the status quo.
The project aims to demonstrate a multi-pronged intervention to tackle air pollution in the City of Skopje. It complements the ongoing efforts to improve data collection and to enhance the coordination among all the responsible actors aimed at ensuring a holistic government and societal response to the air pollution challenge. Through the portfolio design exercise, the UNDP country office will also identify projects and programmes that can contribute to tackle the air pollution as an environmental, governance and social issue thus achieving bigger impact and adding value.
The project will contribute to the extension of the existing monitoring system to measure indoor and outdoor air pollution by extending the network of monitoring stations in the selected strategic pilot area of the Skopje agglomeration, and setting up an IoT and machine learning-based IT platform. In addition, an online platform for collecting and visualizing data will be developed in collaboration with the Goce Delcev University. This platform should support other awareness and communication activities, ultimately helping society to understand how their behaviors affect air quality.