Barranquilla, a city of over 1.2 million residents on the northern coast of Colombia, has joined the BreatheLife campaign as it moves towards bringing its air quality close to World Health Organization guidelines.
The city is working with the Clean Air Institute on an air quality management plan as part of efforts to achieve the third interim target under the WHO’s air quality guidelines (pdf), which includes the aim of getting fine particulate matter (PM2.5) to annual mean concentrations of 15 micrograms per cubic metre— a target that would bring the city in line with national air quality standards in Colombia, a BreatheLife country.
“Barranquilla has signed an agreement with the Clean Air Institute to collectively develop and implement policies, programmes and projects to improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and raise the quality of life in our city and its metropolitan area,” said Barranquilla Mayor Alejandro Char Chaljub.
“The plan will be released in early summer this year,” he said.
Through Barranquilla Verde, the government body responsible for the protection of natural resources and environment sustainability “as a guarantee of quality of life for citizens”, the city has also committed to reporting air quality data— which it has already begun monitoring and gathering— and raising awareness among civil society and key stakeholders.
Crucially, it has committed to advancing the implementation of the eventual integrated air quality management programme, which will complement the existing District Environmental Management Plan.
Barranquilla’s emphasis is on sustainable urban development, rolling out a range of measures in areas from industrial pollution and waste management to energy sources and efficiency.
In particular, it is working on land planning for sustainable mobility, including through the improvement of public transportation and following the principles for compact cities. Vehicles are a significant source of air pollution, and the city is considering actions to take to cut air pollution from older, more highly-polluting vehicles circulating in the city.
It is also putting in place enhanced management of wastewater and solid waste.
Other initiatives include fitting all street lighting with LED lights and developing a solar energy generation project for the district’s college.
The city is also developing el Programa 21°, an energy efficiency programme that encourages its industrial sector to maintain air conditioners at a temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, to address the common problem of excessively-cold office and commercial buildings shared by tropical cities around the world.
Operations are in progress to verify and ensure that brickmaking, incinerators and other relevant industries are operating under appropriate technical conditions.
Most recently, Barranquilla has been in the headlines for a plan to plant 250,000 trees over five years through its $100,000 million “Siembra Barranquilla” programme, 34,000 of which were due for planting at their new homes in designated spots by the end of 2018.
The plan is part of a broader effort to “green” the city, which includes the development of urban gardens and the encouragement of urban agriculture.
In the Botanical Garden Park of Barranquilla, an area for sowing urban gardens was adapted for pedagogical activities, including teaching home gardening and the sowing and care of plants in the urban context.
The BreatheLife campaign welcomes Barranquilla as it embarks on the next phase of its air quality journey.
Follow Barranquilla’s clean air journey here.