Caldas, a region of 1 million residents in the Colombia’s dramatically mountainous coffee-growing region, has joined the BreatheLife campaign, bringing with it a decidedly multi-stakeholder approach to controlling air pollution.
Half its population of lives in the city of Manizales, where a multi-stakeholder team leads anti-pollution efforts.
The “City of Open Doors” views air pollution as a shared challenge.
The university city of 400,000 residents plays to the strengths of government, academia and civil society, allocating responsibility to four organizations for different aspects of monitoring, analysis, policy and building public awareness for better air quality in Manizales.
CORPOCALDAS (Corporación Autónoma Regional De Caldas), Caldas’ government authority on environment and renewable natural resources, deals with funding and defining policy, such as the funding and running of the Air Quality Monitoring Network and promoting sustainable mobility.
Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Manizales provides the analytical capacity needed to support decision-making processes, through the Caldas Environmental Data Center – CDIAC and the Center of Environmental Studies IDEA. From the University, significant efforts in air quality analysis have been made by the research group in Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering (GTA) led by Professor Beatriz Aristizábal.
Set up in 2012 to monitor quality of life and the impact of public policies, Manizales Cómo Vamos was funded by guilds, private sector, media and universities, and has the role of ensuring accountability and transparency in cities, governments, promoting an active and responsible citizenships as well as building alliances around the cities collective matters.
Nonprofit and nongovernmental organization Corporación Cívica de Caldas (CCC) since 1982, has led the defense of collective interest, supporting transparency and access to public information. In the region, CCC promotes the sustainable development and culture of legality. With this idea, the organization conducts workshops with public workers and social leaders to strengthen the democracy and civic oversight.
Currently, Manizales promotes sustainable mobility initiatives such as the use of bicycles, through organizations such as the Oficina de la Bici, which has managed the system of public bicycles in the city available to locals and visitors.
Through these organizations, the city of Manizales intends to:
• Maintain and expand the Air Quality Monitoring Network of Manizales which currently monitors particular matter PM10 and PM2.5, CO, O3 and SO2 concentrations. Promote and improve the analize of data generated from the Monitoring Network. This information will support research processes in academia and decision-making processes in government entities responsible of transport, industry and public health.
• Update vehicle registrations to gradually phase-out vehicles that are highly polluting, use better recording and archiving technologies, disseminate on air quality information from the monitoring network to the community and support initiatives for the use of energy and transportation alternatives that reduce air pollution.
• Promote pedestrian, bicycle and collective public transport mobility based on an urban intermodal mobility system that improves the environmental quality of the traditional centre.
• Monitor indicators of quality of life, including air quality, and make public the results of these indicators to promote a sense of citizen ownership through communication strategies. Facilitate the identification of actors to take medium- and long-term measures to improve air quality in the city.
• Promote citizen access to the information and data generated by the Air Quality Monitoring Network, to increase support for air pollution control measures and boost citizen participation.
A main focus of Manizales’ action for good air quality is vehicular pollution, a challenge shared by many cities around the world; most recently, the city has initiatives to include electric mobility rolled and has implemented car-free days.
Road transport, industrial facilities and the active volcano Nevado del Ruíz (located 27 km from the city) are the main sources of particulate matter and gaseous air pollution in Caldas.
The city has worked hard in disaster risk management, besides a variety of projects in transport, social and environmental sectors, including the Procuenca project for reforestation, the construction of public transport cable car to increase transport alternatives, and the improvement of the air quality monitoring network.
More information about air quality in Caldas may be found in the social media of the company Vitaire Ingeniería, which is currently working in environmental projects and promoting air quality studies.
Caldas brings on its BreatheLife journey lessons from a history of successfully navigating environmental and economic challenges.
Read more about Caldas’ clean air journey here.