Chapter 2: Improving
Strategy Formulation & Action Planning
Formulating and Clarifying Air Quality Management Strategies
To be able to start developing and comparing strategies effectively,
distinctly defined issues have to be addressed.
a) Pros and cons of each option for various stakeholders;
City experiences have shown that the acceptance and implementation success
of strategies depends on the reconciliation of gains and losses in a fair
and equitable way. A situation where all stakeholders win must be created.
Any strategy developed or improved should be through an integrated approach
to the problem being addressed. It is important to realize that air quality
issues involve different decision-making sectors. These crosscutting issues
deal with legislation, monitoring, economic policies, traffic policies,
industrial development policies, energy development policies, land use
planning, and others.
b) Assessing the potential air quality improvement of each response option
In selecting the response options or strategies for addressing air quality issues, it is very important to assess the potential effects of the strategies. Paragraph 1.3 gives useful tools to estimate the environmental benefits of possible strategies. Tools that can be used are emission assessment tools and dispersion models assessing air quality near polluting activity sectors (see TOOL 13 and TOOL 14). Knowing how much improvement can be expected in implementing a strategy against other strategies that address a particular air quality issue promotes consensus on the strategy.
TOOL 15 is a decision support tool based on the Rapid Inventory Assessment Technique (RIAS) and is useful for selecting response options to address traffic related air pollution. A case study of Chennai, India is included.
c) Considering the social and economic costs and benefits of each option
When developing strategies, it is essential to predict the effects of
implementing these strategies. One must determine the effectiveness and
efficiency of each strategy to address the air quality issue. Due consideration
should also be given to possible side effects of the strategies, particularly
economic and social side effects.
d) Clarifying associated policy reforms and institutional
strengthening that have been agreed upon to support the implementation
of the strategy
e) Agreeing on long-term environmental targets and interim goals to guide phased interventions
No strategy will change the situation overnight. Often a phased introduction is advisable. This could be a step-by-step implementation of the complete strategy or the initial introduction of the complete strategy in a certain area and replicating it in other areas (building upon the experiences of implementation in the first area). The strategy should be well programmed and should have a clear time frame for the different phases of implementation.
It is important to realize that people have expectations of strategies. It is highly advisable to develop strategies that can show results in the short-term while addressing long-term issues. If a strategy is addressing an air quality issue only showing long-term results, stakeholders might decide to discontinue implementation because of lack of immediate tangible results.
Experience in the Sustainable Cities Programme has proven that it is important to have an issue-specific working group to develop a comprehensive strategy with short-term and long-term components. Immediate improvements from the short-term implementation provide the support for the long-term implementation of the strategy.
f) Discussing the indicators and monitoring that can be used to track the progress of actions and impacts
When designing a strategy, its implementation has to be monitored. It is important to clearly present the different phases of strategy implementation through maps that show the different stages of implementation, documentation of activities, progress reports, etc. In this way, the progress of activities can be tracked and the strategy can be effectively evaluated. Monitoring and evaluation are vital for decision-making and a possible replication of the strategy.
A number of factors must be built into the design of the strategy including verifiable indicators and means of verification. For example, the decrease in the monitored level of total suspended particulates (TSP) in the air is a very good indicator of the impact of a strategy to lower the sulfur content of diesel and fuel oil.
g) Considering cost-effectiveness and who is responsible
for the costs of implementing a
The cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) as described in TOOL 24 is important for analysing the costs, benefits, and effectiveness of policy and technical measures combating air pollution. The primary objective of this tool is to assist working groups in identifying strategies for attaining a given pollution goal at the smallest cost. A stepwise explanation is given on how to execute a CEA. A city example is also included.
Another factor that should be considered is: who will bear the costs of the strategy? Ideally, those that are responsible for causing the problem/pollution should pay, at least for the most part. This is called the "Polluter Pays Principle." Along with other environmental management principles, this principle is discussed in detail in TOOL 25. Sometimes, the implementation of a particular strategy ends up being accounted for by persons or groups that do not pay the price for the strategy.
h) Consider how to implement the strategy
The success or benefit of a strategy depends on its design and even more on its actual implementation. During the formative stages, working groups should take into consideration factors enhancing the chances for successful implementation of the strategy. These factors encompass public acceptance (which often depends on the early involvement of the stakeholders), adequate capacity or need for capacity building for implementation, resources, and others. The factors must be carefully incorporated into the design of the strategies.
In TOOL 25 the existing environmental management principles applicable to air quality management are presented. They are important in strategy formulation and implementation. Examples include: polluter pays principle, pollution prevention pays, opportunity cost principle, best available technique not entailing excessive costs (BATNEEC), etc.
i) Multiple instrument strategies are more successful
For a strategy to be comprehensive, it is important to use, or at least to consider all of the possible management instruments available. These include, for example, economic instruments, legal instruments, or communication instruments. Experience has shown that strategies using multiple instruments are most successful. TOOL 26 discusses the various environmental management instruments encompassing air quality management that are useful for strategy formulation. This tool distinguishes between policy/legal instruments, economic instruments, and communication instruments; elaborates on the applicability of instruments; and gives examples of urban air quality management.
Practice shows that strategies applying a combination of different types of instruments are most successful in addressing a particular air quality issue. Take the example of reducing motor traffic in a city centre (traffic management). A potentially successful strategy subsidizes buses and improves the infrastructure for walking and bicycles. Further, a public awareness campaign would promote car-pooling, as well as the use of public transport or bicycles. A combination of these sets of economic and communication instruments will be more successful for long-term management of the issue.
j) Opinion and reality check - what is already happening in terms of air quality improvement and how do people perceive the problem?
When identifying and incorporating existing actions and initiatives within the city, it is important to make sure that the underlying issues are well understood among the population of the city: What do the locals experience as their biggest air quality problems? What are the opinions of resident representatives and resident organizations? What actions are already being undertaken to address air pollution? What strategies/ technologies are locally available and viable?
An example of adaptation is the World Bank approach in Latin American cities, particularly in Mexico. Here, the multilateral agency is sponsoring the development of modern tropicalized tools to better understand and adapt the technologies to local circumstances. This is accompanied with measures like increasing awareness on the scale of air pollution, sponsoring modern Cost Benefit Analysis tools to support decision making and promoting a process of adoption of incentives combined with strengthened regulatory mechanisms.
From the discussions in chapter one, it is possible to identify the sources of pollution or the polluting activity sectors within the city. After the identification of these sources, the above points (2.1.a to j) are applicable in selecting the appropriate strategies. According to these activity sectors, air quality management strategies can be subdivided into four categories: transport, industries, natural sources of air pollution, and in-house activities. There is an appreciable use of many strategies and many examples can be drawn from real life experiences. Because of these experiences, some of the advantages and disadvantages of these strategies can now be listed.
2.2.1 Strategies to Reduce Air Pollution from Transport
A number of options are now available and are being used in cities to
counter the air pollution resulting from transportation. The International
Institute for Energy Conservation in Washington has prepared a survey
of strategies for transport management (UNEP 96). Adopted from this, TOOL
20 gives a summary of strategies with city examples focusing on managing
Strategies for managing pollutants from transportation activities can be categorized as follows;
a) Reducing vehicular pollution
Although technical measures alone are not sufficient to ensure the desired reduction of urban air pollution, they are an indispensable component for any cost effective strategy for limiting vehicle emissions. Fuel and the vehicle types have a great impact on air quality situations. This is especially true in many developing countries where the growth rate in private vehicle ownership is higher than in developed countries. Cities in developing countries also have large numbers of older vehicles that were cheaply imported and/or passed down the economic chain.
Overall strategies to reduce vehicular pollution may include:
- Vehicle inspection and maintenance (I&M)
- Improving fuel quality
For example, Delhi, India, has converted its entire public transport fleet to CNG and operates the world-wide largest bus fleet (more than 1200 buses) on this alternative fuel. In a further step, all motor rickshaws and private taxis were converted to CNG. The result is that the traffic related air pollution could be reduced considerably. The operating costs are lower than with conventional fuels due to lower fuel prices (India exploits their own natural gas deposits).
- Introducing new vehicle technologies
All of these strategies described above are discussed in detail under
TOOL 20 of the toolkit.
In developing countries, setting strict standards for newly imported vehicles may help to reduce the already existing problem of vehicle pollution in the city. For further reading on this subject, the following publications are recommended: 'Air Pollution from Motor Vehicles - Standards and Technologies for Controlling Emissions' by the World Bank and 'URBAIR', an urban air quality management strategy guidebook for Asia, also prepared by the World Bank.
b) Managing travel demand and improving transportation supply
Cities cannot continue to expand their urban transportation systems forever.
Although some expansion is necessary, the economic, social, and environmental
costs of doing so are prohibitive. Instead, cities must re-examine urban
transportation demand and devise new strategies that provide maximum access
at minimum total cost. The challenge is to expand and improve supply so
that automobile transport becomes one part of the transportation system
rather than the focus. However, implementation options for discouraging
over-reliance on privately owned cars will not work unless people are
given an efficient and economic transportation alternative - whether bus,
light rail, subway, ferries, walking or cycling. Therefore, improving
urban transportation systems will require a combination of policies that
reinforce each other and help to avoid adverse side effects. Likewise,
the policy to encourage a shift to cleaner alternative fuels should be
accompanied by an appropriate pricing policy.
The UNEP report on 'Air Quality Management and Assessment Capabilities in 20 Major Cities' mentions the main strategies to address industrial urban air pollution. The focus is on cities in developing countries. In order to have enough of a basis to formulate strategies that will reduce industrial pollution within the city, it is imperative to have enough information. One would need, for example, information on polluting industries, what type of pollutants are emitted from these industries, what are the trends of the pollutants, and what is currently being done to reduce this trend. It is also important to know if there are any industrial hotspots located within the city. Most of this information should be contained in the city air quality profile developed in the first stage of the process. Another way of obtaining information is through emissions inventories. Emissions inventories are useful quantifications of pollutant emissions over time. They enable better targeting of emissions controls on major sources and source categories. For details on the formation and application of an emissions inventory, please see TOOL 19 of the toolkit. The main strategies for addressing industrial pollution have been summarized in TOOL 21 with the best city examples divided into three categories that are discussed: a) physical planning and zoning, b) promoting pollution control, and c) cleaner production. It contains examples where strategies have been implemented and the advantages and disadvantages.
a) Physical planning and zoning
b) Promoting pollution control in factories
It is strongly recommended to focus urban air quality policy on the implementation of best available/affordable techniques for specific industrial processes. The advantage is that local governments can make an action plan for the implementation of best available and/or affordable techniques in cooperation with the industries themselves. Experiences have illustrated that this often results in a realistic action plan generating commitment from all of those involved. Furthermore, it is easier to monitor whether industries have installed pollution control devices than to control their exact emissions.
Many developing countries have set emission standards for specific types of industries. However, experience shows that enforcement is often weak; it is thus recommended that this enforcement strategy be combined with the best available/affordable techniques.
c) Promoting cleaner production (prevention solutions rather then end-of-pipe remedies)
Cleaner production means increasing the efficiency of industrial processes and the use of products to prevent the pollution of air, water, and land; reducing wastes at their source; and minimizing risks to people and the environment. Cleaner production is a way to achieve both environmental protection and economic benefits. By better managing the production process, one can save energy and materials.
In the case of air quality management, the main cleaner production successes have been achieved by improving fuel quality. Examples include restricting the sulphur content of fuels and encouraging the use of cleaner types of fuels (such as natural gas).
Although cleaner production is the most sustainable solution, one should realize that end-of-pipe solutions are still necessary to address industrial air pollution. Many of the end-of-pipe techniques achieve reductions of over 90% in air emissions, something that could hardly be achieved with cleaner production measures alone.
2.2.3 Formulating Strategies to Reduce Indoor Pollution
TOOL 22 gives an overview of strategies that address indoor air pollution. The advantages and disadvantages are explained along four categories, illustrated by some city examples:
2.2.4 Strategies for Reducing Air Pollution Caused by Open Burning of Wastes and Emanating from Natural Sources
In many developing cities, lacking a comprehensive system of waste collection, open burning of waste by city residents is sometimes a major contributor to the city's air quality. At the same time, pollution due to natural sources, such as dust (particulate matter) emanating from open land contribute to the city's air quality situation.
Open burning of waste can produce mixed fumes that are very toxic. In order to address this issue, it is useful to identify areas where burning occurs; to assess the extent of the problem in terms of how many residents practice uncontrolled domestic waste burning; then to assess the adequacy of the city's disposal provisions in these areas; and to improve these facilities and the capacities for waste management, if necessary.
TOOL 23, Managing Air Quality from Natural Resources, provides management options for dealing with air pollution from natural sources. Examples include paving unpaved roads and using street sweeping equipment. The tool also contains examples where these practices have been implemented.
2.2.5 Clarifying Issue-Specific Policy Options
Political, administrative, and technical activities are accomplished more effectively when issues are well-defined and narrowly specified. This allows for relevant policy options to be well-prepared. In particular, the clarification of air quality management strategies brings a clearer understanding of the costs and benefits for different stakeholders and of the "trade-offs" for the entire city. This approach provides a basis for reaching a consensus that will be able to build implementable strategies. As part of the process, it is useful for strategies to be articulated and published in the form of both technical and non-technical presentations, maps, and reports.
Cities identify what are the available means of implementation and resources in order to agree on realistic strategies. For working groups on air quality management it is valuable to identify the financial resources, technical capabilities, and institutional responsibilities of the various actors that control or could control implementation instruments (see chapter 2.3.1, below). As participants of the working groups receive their mandate from their respective institutions and organizations, they are aware of their own implementation capacities and are able to commit their organizations. By using this structure, working groups can analyse the feasibility of implementation, pinpoint responsibilities, and develop budgets and timeframes for implementing specific action plans (see chapter 2.3.2) .
It is important to clarify which organizations (public, private or governmental) control relevant implementation instruments and have powers in the field of air quality management. Government agencies that deal with such issues include the ministries of local government, environment, energy, transport, finance, and other government institutions like meteorological departments or government research institutes. Organizations in the public and private sectors that are relevant for air quality management include Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs), Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), business associations, civic groups, and others.
In order to achieve this clarification, questions that must be asked include:
Knowing the actors and their specific responsibilities and capabilities is important in order to involve them in strategy formulation and in the eventual implementation.
2.3.2 Analysing Implementation Feasibility
The implementation feasibility of the strategies selected in chapter 2.1 should be checked with the following criteria:
Cities develop common visions that are translated into strategies agreed upon by all stakeholders. Different interests are thus reconciled through conflict resolution and by exploring win-win situations.
Consensus can be built through effective public outreach activities, by holding consultative meetings and mini-consultations, and by keeping key stakeholders informed of the activities of the working group on air quality and inviting them to participate in its activities, thereby providing them a chance to comment and contribute. Continuously involving the stakeholders promotes consensus on the resolutions undertaken and encourages support for the strategies and/or initiatives of the working group to manage the city's air quality.
Cities must ensure compatibility among the new environmental strategies prepared and the existing strategies at city or national level. It is essential to take ongoing developments into account. Working groups can only be effective if they coordinate their new strategies with existing plans.
Integration of land use planning with transportation planning and air quality management planning, all of which bear a direct influence on a city's air quality, is an ideal illustration of the need for coordination.
Rapidly growing Chinese cities are especially active in infrastructure construction. In April 2002, Shanghai outlined a transport plan for the next 20 years. Among other things, it envisages increasing arterial road capacity from 2.7 million vehicles km/h to 4.1 million km/h by 2005 and to 6.5 million km/h by 2020. (Embarq 2003). At the same time, initiatives are underway to increase the public transport share through rapid mass transit systems in order to counter-balance the negative air quality effects of the enormous pace of private motorisation. Similar activities are undertaken in Mexico City and Istanbul.
For any identified air quality issue and subsequent strategies considered, a transparent action plan enhances the chances of successful implementation. Action plans must contain clear time frames indicating what is achievable in the short, medium, and long term.
The development of action plans should be a bottom-up approach involving multi-stakeholder working groups. With information on air quality issues already selected and clarified and strategies identified, the action planning stage should include further categorizing or ranking of strategies based on the following criteria:
During action planning, careful consideration should be given to the strategy implementation approach, as far as policy and regulatory instruments accompanying the implementation are concerned. For example, whether a strategy should be implemented through a command and control approach, through certain market-based mechanisms or levels of communication to promote acceptability, or through a combination of these and other factors identified, may depend on a particular local situation. This may involve the following necessary steps (URBAIR, The World Bank, 1997):
1. Preparing an inventory of environmental policy instruments and checking/improving the legislative and institutional frameworks currently in use;
2. Designing an effective, efficient, and feasible package of policy instruments to implement the strategies adopted; and
3. Identifying the legislative, institutional, and financial actions needed to implement the strategy.
Action planning should also take into consideration both the local and global environment and development agenda. Action planning should become as integrated as possible with economic and urban development plans.
A successful action plan will allow a bottom-up, multi-stakeholder participation in its development to enhance transparency and public support. The action plan should also be formulated in a clear and cohesive way to attract legal and funding commitment.
A very important component of action planning is the time frame. Comprehensive action planning must include a clear time frame of what is achievable. It should incorporate achievements in the short, medium, and long term, and it should include indicators and methods for tracking these achievements.
Within the plan, there must be a clear articulation of responsibilities. For example, who is responsible for what activity? This responsibility will involve different actors or stakeholders like the government, popular sector of private business.
Action plans should be as comprehensive as possible. They must take into consideration any likely considerations and be flexible enough to allow for adjustments in the event that these assumptions are not realized.
2.6.2 Agreement on Action Plans
Experience has demonstrated that action plans are most successful when formulated as clear and detailed agreements for coordinated action, describing each agency's or stakeholder's commitment to priority actions within a well-defined timetable. Action plans typically include: allocation of staff, time and resources, use of financial resources for both investment as well as operation and maintenance, detailed geographic focus, and a common system for monitoring the observance of commitments and achievement of action plan objectives.
This participatory and consultative process is effective in catalyzing agreements on air quality management strategies and action plans. The action plans may be widely disseminated to other stakeholders not directly participating in its development. Most noticeably this includes dissemination to representatives in the working groups or through consultative meetings. A time frame may be allocated for this consultative process and feedback to allow for mobilization of resources and further commitment.