Air pollution is a major environmental problem, affecting everyone’s health. On top of that, it is a complex and multi-dimensional problem. For example it is especially challenging to assess the contribution of different air pollutant sources to ambient concentrations, predict air pollution hotspots, understand the adverse effects of exposure to multiple air pollutants, and develop targeted policy measures to effectively improve air quality in a city and as a result improve citizens health. It is also very difficult to communicate this complex issue to people, being these technical experts on specific scientific disciplines, civil servants, policy makers and citizens.
AIR-HERITAGE aims to tackle this problem and improve the air quality in the City of Portici, using an innovative decision support tool and a truly participative approach to design and put in place efficient, evidence-based policies and measures to curb air pollution. Given the complexities associated with air pollution and its mitigation, there is a steep learning curve for everyone involved. Hence, it is particularly important to successfully communicate all the challenges faced and how these have been resolved, so that other cities across Europe can learn and directly benefit from AIR-HERITAGE.
In the first AIR-HERITAGE Journal, besides key project activities, the projects’ relevance to the EU, national and regional policy context was presented. Emphasis was given on how the project was introduced to the public and how students were actively being engaged. The concept for the AIR-HERITAGE Decision Support tool was presented and how AIR-HERITAGE aims to combine monitoring and modelling to facilitate evidence-informed policy making. Last but not least, key challenges faced related to the project implementation were analysed, along with solutions employed to address these. These comprised of bureaucratic challenges related to the municipality’s internal procedures, the lack of experience in implementing an innovative project, the difficulties faced in the collaboration of delivery partners, and the engagement of citizens.
This second Journal presents AIR-HERITAGE key achievements to date and describes how the various challenges faced, have evolved over time, as well as new challenges that have emerged, mostly related to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, measures and steps put in place to address these challenges are discussed. The aim is to inspire other cities across Europe to act, whilst in parallel guide them to more effectively implement similar activities. Solutions presented are not always transferable across projects, however, the processes followed to develop these can certainly benefit other local authorities.
1. Improving the air quality in the City of Portici
2. The AIR-HERITAGE implementation challenges
To date, AIR-HERITAGE has effectively engaged with students and the general public, air quality is regularly being monitored, and the monitoring network is gradually being enriched, whilst the UIAQ tool, i.e. the AIR-HERITAGE Decision Support System, has been successfully developed. Nevertheless, a number of challenges have been faced. These are summarised in the table below along with how these have been resolved.