On December 2-3, 2020 the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), with support from the U.S. Embassies in Nur-Sultan and Bishkek, convened a regional workshop on air quality monitoring network development. Participants from the C5+1 countries of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the United States joined the virtual workshop, which included government representatives for hydrometeorology and air quality monitoring. During the event Lydmila Nyshаnbaeva, Head of Environmental Monitoring, Kyrgyz Hydromet under the Ministry of Emergency Situations remarked that “From this workshop, we learned best practices from our U.S. colleagues on determining the goals of air quality monitoring, and the use of monitors and sensors. This workshop is a good platform for the exchange of knowledge and useful information so that the entire region can achieve goals in the field of air quality. In the future, we can think about the development of a regional monitoring network for Central Asia.”
This is the second workshop held by the U.S. EPA with Central Asian partners. In August 2020, U.S. EPA, U.S. Embassy Nur-Sultan, and the Secretariat of the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution conducted a five-day workshop on a wide range of air quality management topics, including estimation of pollutant emissions, analysis of health effects, and strategies on public communication of air quality information. Both workshops aim to strengthen regional partnership and inter-government cooperation on air quality management in Central Asia.
KG Moore, the head of U.S. Embassy Bishkek’s Political and Economic section underlined the importance of the event, saying “Gathering air quality data is the first step to fighting air pollution. Air quality monitoring networks help policymakers and civil society create and implement effective policies to fight air pollution. We are encouraged to see the nations of Central Asia working together for clean air.”
The United States is committed to partnering with host governments in Central Asia to develop policies of environmental stewardship and air quality management. U.S. Embassies in Central Asia have been monitoring and publishing real-time air quality data since 2019; in October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek’s reference-grade air quality monitor received accreditation from the State Registry of Official Measuring Devices of the Kyrgyz Republic. In the last five years, the U.S. Government has provided approximately $750,000 in grant funding for air quality projects in Central Asia. In September 2020, the U.S. State Department awarded a $300,000 grant to the youth-led environmental organization MoveGreen to improve air quality monitoring networks in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The three-year project will be in collaboration with KyrgyzHydromet, KazakhHydromet, UNEP, and the U.S. Embassies in Bishkek and Nur-Sultan.