There are a number of environmental issues that we are facing at present. Two grand environmental challenges of our time are climate change and air quality degradation. Nepal is at the forefront of bearing the brunt of their adverse impacts. In regards to air pollution in Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, where the capital city Kathmandu is located, has one of the worst air problems in the world, and recent studies and observations suggest that air quality in the Kathmandu Valley and other parts of Nepal is getting worse. Unfortunately, public awareness and response to addressing deteriorating air quality is awfully minimal. Therefore, it is proposed to organize an Environment Olympiad with the focus on air pollution, involving high school and University students, as a one of the effective means for teaching young professionals/students and raising awareness on a major environmental threat to Nepal as well as surrounding areas in the Himalayan region. The proposed Environmental Olympiad on air pollution will be carried out in two phases: involving several dozen students at masters level and recent graduates in phase I, and involving several hundred high school (commonly known as +2 in Nepal) and college students in phase II. It will generate enthusiasm, right perception and action in the students of not only science stream but also of other disciplines from colleges and universities around the country. Universities and colleges focus mainly on prescribed syllabus and examinations, not necessarily broadening their knowledge on various aspects of environmental issues (science, technology, society, culture, policy and regulations etc.) and intricate connections among them, and realize their potential through other means of exposure such as student forum where they can harness their creativity to understand and reduce air pollution, and share knowledge so that they can lead society and nation in “Our Fight for Clean Air Right.”
The proposed Environment Olympiad is planned to be carried out in two phases and 4 tiers. This proposal focuses only on the first phase and its two tiers. Nepal Science Olympiad (NeSO) and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) will jointly organize the Environment Olympiad.
1. Objectives of Environment Olympiad
- To engage students of Masters Level and recent graduates to teach them and raise their awareness, through a non-class room setting/format, on different issues of air pollution at national, regional and global level
- To educate young high school (+2 level) and college students and local people on the different aspects of air pollution
- To recognize and honor the top presenters and learners among the participants
2. Target Groups
Three target groups are identified:
- First target group: Graduate students (MSc. PhD and recent graduates)
- Second target group: Higher secondary (+2) and college students
- Third target group: journalists and science reporters of various mass media
3. Format of the Environment Olympiad
The program is planned to be organized in two phases and 4 tiers.
Phase I, Tier I: Select 100 graduate students in environment science/engineering programs at various universities, and ask each individual to explore one of the ten defined themes/aspects of air pollution and prepare a write-up and presentation (see topics in Section 5).
Phase I, Tier II: Top 20 students/participants will be selected by the evaluation committee based on their write-up and the other defined selection criteria. They will be asked to give presentation on the theme they have selected in a seminar. Based on their presentation, the top 10 presenters will be selected by the evaluation committee. The top 10 write-up will be compiled and published in a book.
Phase II, Tier III: It is expected that more than 1,000 students of higher secondary school/college level will register for Phase 2, Tier 3. The top 10 participants selected in phase 1 will give 10 presentations on 10 different themes of air pollution to these 1,000 plus students in a 2-day seminar. After each presentation, the audience (i.e., 1,000 plus students) will be asked 10 questions based on the theme. Altogether, each student will be asked to answer 100 questions on air pollution. Based on the correct answers, the winners will be selected. Similarly, out of the top 10 presenters, the winners will be evaluated based on the voting by the students in audience and the marking of the evaluation committee. The representative media people will be present in the seminar as the guest audience.
Phase II, Tier IV: Top 3 higher secondary school students from among audiences who answer highest number of questions among 100 questions will be selected and awarded.
The key activities in each phase and tier and other details are given in Annex A2.
4. Topics for the Scientific Write-up by the Graduate Students:
- Sources of air pollution in Nepal and control of emissions from them (e.g., transport sector, industries such as brick factories, garbage and agro-residue burning, transboundary air pollution)
- Particulate air pollution in Nepal
- Gaseous air pollutants in Nepal
- Energy and air pollution in Nepal, including indoor air pollution
- Impacts of air pollution on public health, agriculture, water resources (including snow and glacier) and climate change
- Socio-economic and cultural issues associated with air pollution, including gender issue
- Technological/non-technological measures for air pollution mitigation
- Policies, regulations, and institutions for on air pollution management in Nepal
- Air pollution, awareness and media in Nepal
- Air quality in the context of regional/global change
5. Expected Outcomes/Outputs
The Environment Olympiad is aimed at the following outputs/outcomes:
- It will provide a unique opportunity and exposure for 100 graduate students for developing creative competitive skill and knowledge, as well as raise awareness on air pollution among 100 young people from graduate level and more than 1,000 young students from higher secondary /college level.
- Being the first nationwide Environment Olympiad, it will generate a new dimension and window of opportunity in the Science Olympiad.
- Proceedings of the event will be published comprising the write-up of the top 10 presenters.
- Media coverage will bring out critical issues related to air pollution in Nepal and promote awareness among a wide range of audience/readers.