With the increasing urbanisation and economic growth, and having a quarter of the world's population, air pollution is an increasing concern in South Asian countries. In 1998, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) together with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) drew attention to the possibility of the impacts of transboundary air pollution in South Asia. This initiative led to the adoption of the Malé Declaration on Control and Prevention of Air Pollution and its likely Transboundary Effects for South Asia (Malé Declaration). The initiative was funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) as part of the Regional Air Pollution in Developing Countries (RAPIDC) programme since its inception until 2012. It is the only inter-governmental agreement of its kind covering the eight countries namely: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Twelfth Session of the Intergovernmental Meeting (IG12), in 2011 endorsed the sustainable financial mechanism. The network is now funded by voluntary financial contributions from the participating countries. Governments nominated National Implementing Agencies (NIAs) and National Focal Points (NFPs) for the implementation of the Malé Declaration.
On 19th and 20th of March 1998, a round-table policy dialogue regarding the rapidly increasing problem of regional air pollution, with a focus on South Asia, was organized at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Bangkok, Thailand. The Meeting was organized by the UNEP Regional Resource Center for Asia and the Pacific in collaboration with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). The meeting was attended by distinguished groups of senior level environment ministry officials from South Asian countries, analysts and policy influencers, and representatives from key environmental organizations in the area. The meeting agreed on the need for action. The meeting, noting the experience of Europe decided to work on a draft declaration. The meeting approved the draft declaration in principle and decided to submit to the Seventh Governing Council of South Asia
Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) for adoption.
The Malé Declaration: The Seventh meeting of the Governing Council of SACEP, held in April 1998 in Malé, the Republic of Maldives, adopted the Declaration naming it the Malé Declaration on Control and Prevention of Air Pollution and its likely Transboundary Effects for South Asia .The Malé Declaration stated the need for countries to carry forward, or initiate, studies and programmes on air pollution in each country of South Asia. The first stage in this process is to document current knowledge and information/ institutional capacity in each nation relevant to air pollution issues. To this end it was agreed that baseline studies would be developed. Gaps in the current status of knowledge and capacity would become apparent and national action plans to fill these gaps could then be implemented, creating a solid scientific basis for the policy process. Implementation of the action plan will put in place expertise, equipment and information for quantitative monitoring, analysis and policy recommendations for eventual prevention of air pollution.
The implementation of the Malé Declaration was envisaged in phases, keeping in mind the Malé Declaration's objectives, content, and thrust. During the last 16 years of implementation, network of policy makers and stakeholders has been established, networks of monitoring and impact assessment have been established, completed several impact assessment studies and communicated to policy makers and stakeholders, and initiated policy measures to control emissions of air pollutants. Phase V (2014-2016) aims to promote policy measures to control emissions of air pollution including short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) in South Asia and to ensure the sustainability and ownership of the Malé Declaration in the region.
- Recognising the potential for increase in air pollution and consequential phenomena due to concentration of pollutant gases, acid rain or acid deposition as well as the impacts on the health of humans and other living organisms in all our countries due to man made and natural causes; and also
- Recognising the potential for increase in transboundary air pollution as a corollary of air pollution in each country; and
- Realising that the potential for air pollution increase and its transboundary effects will accumulate in the absence of national measures to abate and prevent such potential; and
- Reiterating in this context Principle 21 of the UN declaration on the Human Environment in 1972 which stated that States have, in accordance with the charter of the United Nations and the principle of international laws, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other states or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction;
- Keeping in mind that need for constant study and monitoring of the trends in air pollution with a view to understand the extent of our potential for damage to the environment and health in the member countries and taking consequential measures to strengthen and build capacity for such activities;
- Stressing the need for development and economic growth that will help build up the quality of life and incomes of all the people of all the region, in particular the poorer sections of the population, having due regard to the need to have a clean and healthy environment;
- Emphasising that air pollution issues have to be analysed and managed in the wider framework of human and sustainable development within each country and within the region; and
- Drawing from the experience of co-operation in the region in matters like cultural exchange and also from the experience in other regions like Europe and sub-regions of Asia like ASEAN and East Asia.
We declare that countries of this region will initiate and/or carry forward programmes in each country to
- Assess and analyse the origin and causes, nature, extent and effects of local and regional air pollution, using the in-house in identified institutions, universities, colleges etc., building up or enhancing capacities in them where required;
- Develop and/or adopt strategies to prevent and minimise air pollution;
- Work in co-operation with each other to set up monitoring arrangements beginning with the study of sulphur and nitrogen and volatile organic compounds emissions, concentrations and deposition;
- Co-operate in building up standardised methodologies to monitor phenomena like acid depositions and analyse their impacts without prejudice to the national activities in such fields;
- Take up the aforesaid programmes and training programmes which involves then transfer of financial resources and technology and work towards securing incremental assistance from bilateral and multilateral sources;
- Encourage economic analysis that will help arriving at optimal results
- Engage other key stakeholders for example industry, academic institutions, NGOs, communities and media etc. in the effort and activities.
We also declare that we shall constantly endeavor to improve national reporting systems and strengthen scientific and academic effort in the understanding and tackling of air pollution issues.
We further declare that we shall continue this process in stages with mutual consultation to draw up and implement national and regional action plans and protocols based on a fuller understanding of transboundary air pollution issues.
We declare that in pursuit of the above, we shall evolve, as appropriate, institutional structures at the national level, including networking.
National Focal Points (NFP) and National Implementing Agencies (NIA)
NFP: Ministry of Environment and Forest
NIA: Department of Environment, Dhaka
NFP & NIA: National Environment Commission (NEC), Thimpu
NFP: Ministry of the Environment, Forest and Climate Change
NIA: Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi
NFP & NIA: Department of Environment, Tehran
NFP: Ministry of Environment and Energy
NIA: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Maldives
NFP: Ministry of Population and Environment
NIA: International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu
NFP: Ministry of Climate Change
NIA: Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA), Islamabad
NFP: Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment
NIA: Central Environmental Authority (CEA), Colombo