Guidance Framework

Is a Framework prepared through a series of consultations by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Clean Air Asia was developed to provide guidance in implementing the long-term vision for urban air quality in Asia.

Ambient air quality standards and monitoring systems

This area aims to strengthen air quality standards and sustainable national and local air quality monitoring programmes that would enable sufficient understanding of air quality status. India has a national level monitoring network known as National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP). The network consists of three hundred and forty two (342) operating stations covering one hundred and twenty seven (127) cities/towns in twenty six (26) states and four (4) Union Territories of the country. Of these, 12 cities in India report air quality index (AQI). This is because AQI requires hourly data, which is not possible with most of the stations being manually run. Further AQI requires at least 5 pollutant parameters and most of the air quality monitoring stations report levels of three pollutants – PM10, SOx and NOx.

Emission inventory and source apportionment

Effective solutions to air pollution require a process of continual improvement in understanding where pollution is coming from and how much each source is contributing. A robust city level inventory provides information to policymakers to significantly aid in the design and implementation of emission reduction plans and regulations. In India, six cities have emission inventories – Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kanpur. Under the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research in India, four cities (Delhi, Pune, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai) have high-resolution emission inventories of up to 1 x 1 Km2 resolution. 

Health and other impacts

Air pollution has been recognized as the world’s largest single environmental health risk. The Global Burden of Disease 2010 (GBD) ranked air pollution as a leading cause of death and disability in India. We need to develop an air pollution forecasting system across Indian cities so that citizens can take actions in their everyday lives to ward off detrimental effects if they are given air quality advisories in advance. The importance of estimating health and environmental impacts due to exposure to air pollutants is more important than ever. 

Communicating air quality, health and co-benefits

We need to understand what bad air is doing to us. Air quality communication is a key component to the adoption of air pollution control measures by convincingly conveying the relevance and impact on us. Eleven cities in India provide Air Quality Index based on real time data, but there is still a need to effectively and scientifically communicate the index to have a large impact factor. Learnings and best practices from different cities can be exchanged to communicate air quality and health co-benefits for large scale change. Individual efforts on successful communication of air quality issues can be replicated by others to create opportunities for public engagement leading to action.


Law enforcement is pivotal to inform, educate and strengthen stakeholder participation in all aspects of air quality management to prevent and reduce the impacts of air pollution. This involves multi-level forms of governance vertically (from the local to the central) and horizontally (different government departments coming together at each level) to address the issue of air pollution. Not only will such an initiative allow for better enforcement but aid in identifying capacity barriers and hence aid in formulating solutions to bridge the gap

Clean air action plans

Our cities need clean air action plans to address the issue of air pollution. While there is a need for more cities to formulate plans in accordance to their specific needs, the intent more importantly is the effective implementation of the plan that necessarily takes into account issues from all the other five areas under the Guidance Framework. Clean air action plans are a composite of all six areas and what embodies an effective strategy to formulate solutions to the air pollution problem.

Further, in envisioning the guidance framework, the involvement of civil society, NGOs, and citizens is treated as seminal in achieving better air quality.