Local Political Measures to Improve the Air Quality in Urban Areas
in the Context of Sustainable Development
Ştefan Ţălu
and Anton D. Nazarov
The Directorate of Research, Development and Innovation Management (DMCDI), Technical University of Cluj-Napoca,
Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Institute of management and information technologies, Ural State University of Economics, Russia
Keywords: Air Quality, Climate Change, Sustainable Development, Urban Areas.
Abstract: This article proposes a series of local political measures that can be applied in the context of sustainable
development in urban areas from Romania, considering the provisions of the Romanian legislation for the
evaluation of air quality under national and European Union standards. These measures can maintain the
ambient air quality in urban areas where there are limits provided by the actual legislation for air pollutants;
can improve the quality of the ambient air in the urban areas where it does not fall within the limits provided
by the actual legislation; as well as limit/eliminate negative effects on the environment.
Sustainable development, as a notion, was historically
introduced to the international community after the
Conference on the Human Environment, held in
Stockholm, Sweden, in 1972, a context in which the
problems of education for sustainable development
and environmental education were highlighted
(Yenchun Jim Wu and Ju-Peng Shen, 2016).
Lester R. Brown, a specialist in the development
of contemporary society, founded the World Watch
Institute in Washington in 1974, promoting articles,
studies, materialized in annual reports on the evolution
and progress of structuring a sustainable society.
Lester R. Brown in "Plan B 2.0" highlights the
conflict between industrial civilization and the
environment and presents issues such as the tendency
to deplete natural resources of energy, raw materials,
and food, the use of renewable resources at a rate
higher than their capacity regeneration,
physicochemical degradation, and pollution of vital
environmental factors: water, air, soil.
The involvement of the political factor in
explaining and resolving these issues has offered wide
international debates at a high level; for example, the
1975 Charter of Belgrade concluded that
environmental problems can be identified and
prevented, and/or resolved through an educational
process. In the same year, 1975, the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) launched the International Program on
Environmental Education (IEEP) internationally and
introduced a series of educational activities to lay the
foundations for a future. environmental education
This was followed by the Tbilisi Declaration
(UNESCO, 1978: 25), including in Recommendation
1 (3) the purpose and objectives of environmental
education: “The main objective of the environmental
education is to succeed in making individuals and
communities understand the complex nature of natural
and built environment resulting from the interaction of
biological, physical, social, economic and cultural
aspects and to acquire knowledge, values, attitudes
and practical skills, to participate responsibly and
efficiently in anticipating and solving environmental
problems and environmental quality management”.
In 1983, the World Commission on Environment
and Development (WCED), headed by Gro Bruntland,
was set up based on a resolution adopted by the United
Nations General Assembly.
The widespread definition of sustainable
development was promoted by the World
Commission on Environment and Development
Talu, S. and Nazarov, A.
Local Political Measures to Improve the Air Quality in Urban Areas in the Context of Sustainable Development.
DOI: 10.5220/0010585500230027
In Proceedings of the International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure (ISSDRI 2021), pages 23-27
ISBN: 978-989-758-519-7
2021 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
(WCED) in its report "Our Common Future" under
the title Brundtland Report: "Sustainable
development is the development that seeks to meet
the needs of the present without compromising future
generations to meet their own needs".
On the other hand, the Brundtland Report clarified
that economic development is a continuous, evolving
process, but that the strategies applied to achieve the
objectives must be correlated to be adapted to the
ecological limits offered by the environment and the
planet's resources.
In 1987, under the auspices of UNESCO, an
international conference was held in Moscow on the
central theme of environmental education and the
importance of sustainability in environmental
education, which aimed to establish an international
action plan for environmental education and training
for the 1990s. It was proposed to form a system of
complex knowledge on the integrity of nature, on the
unity of man, society, and nature, through which to
form the respective competencies, value orientations,
conduct, and activity that would ensure a responsible
attitude towards nature, focused on ecological
The "Earth Summit" took place in Rio de Janeiro
in 1992, bringing together representatives from about
170 states, which adopted a series of conventions on
climate change (reduction of methane and carbon
dioxide emissions), biological diversity (species
conservation), and stopping massive deforestation,
such that to not affect the biophysical balance of the
Earth, but without giving up social welfare.
In 1992, UNESCO's "Agenda 21" laid the formal
foundations for sustainability education to facilitate
the acquisition of knowledge that would allow
understanding of environmental issues in their depth
and complexity, ultimately leading to decision-
making based on environmental awareness, as well as
promoting opportunities to have direct experiences
with the natural environment.
The United Nations Summit was held in 2002 in
Johannesburg on the World Summit on Sustainable
Development (WSSD), which formulated sustainable
development as a central element in international
politics, highlighting the multiple aspects of the
concept of sustainable development and the
connections between poverty, the environment and
the use of natural resources. The Johannesburg
Declaration promoted responsibility for economic
development, social development, and environmental
protection (at local, national, regional, and global)
and implied the development theory and practice.
Sustainable development (SD) has become a
ubiquitous development paradigm that proposes a
stable theoretical framework in human-environment
decisions (environment, economic environment, or
social environment). The concept of sustainable
development sums up economic, social, and
environmental concepts that can evolve in
interdependence, supporting each other.
Within the European Union, since 2006, the
concept of sustainable development has been
implemented in the Strategy for an enlarged Europe,
based on a unitary strategic vision, for the continuous
improvement of the quality of life for present and
future generations, for the creation of sustainable,
capable communities to manage and use resources
efficiently and to exploit the potential of ecological
and social innovation of the economy, to ensure social
cohesion, prosperity, and environmental protection
(Țălu, 2019; Ţălu and Nazarov, 2020; Velasco et. al.,
In 2010, as a process of further sustainable
development of the EU, the Europe 2020 Strategy
was adopted which identifies through concrete
actions the objectives of promoting smart growth
(education, research, innovation), sustainable
(renewable resources, energy efficiency, reduction of
greenhouse gas emissions). carbon) and inclusive
(prosperous savings, job creation, poverty reduction,
In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 20-22, 2012, the
UN Conference on Sustainable Development "Rio +
20" was held with the objectives of promoting green
economic development, sustainable development,
and poverty reduction, as well as assessing progress
to present and existing gaps in implementation
measures and obtaining results from previous
summits. However, the most important goal was to
identify and prevent new global challenges and
threats to sustainable development. The documents
adopted at the conference stressed that states must
align and make joint efforts in implementing "green
economy" methods to help sustainable development.
States can also turn to renewable energy resources,
promoting policies that reduce the global poverty
rate, protect the environment, and, most importantly,
effectively manage cultivation, distribution, and
consumption of the planet's resources (Mensah et al.,
The Development Summit in September 2015
adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development, which covers both developed and
developing countries and includes the 17 Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs), informally brought
together under the name of Sustainable Development
Goals. Global for the next 15 years to eradicate
ISSDRI 2021 - International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure
extreme poverty, combat inequality and injustice and
protect the planet by 2030.
On 22 November 2016, the European
Commission presented the Communication "Next
steps for a sustainable European future" in which it is
committed to sustainable development.
Today, about 55% of the world's population lives
in urban areas, and in the coming decades it is
expected that this process will increase. Clean cities
with green spaces harmoniously located are more
attractive offering environmental benefits, but also
substantial economic benefits and social co-benefits
(Bulkeley and Betsill, 2005; Nuţă et. al., 2015;
Rainald and Schrauth, 2021).
Romania strives for the implementation of the
2030 Agenda by local institutions, in line with the
needs, interests, and concerns of citizens, by defining
local and national development strategies.
An appropriate strategy on economies and urban
environments is addressed through the Urban
Development Strategies supported by the Alliance of
Cities, in which environmental issues are seriously
and sustainably analyzed. Considered important as a
whole, these experiences highlight the process of
urban governance for solving and improving the
environmental conditions in cities.
In this article are shown the main solutions
approached in urban areas in Romania by developing
innovative tools for urban impact assessments to
support air quality and climate change, by analyzing
technological and non-technological measures and
local administrative policy options.
In this study, a set of questions was proposed:
1) What are the policies of local governments that
can be effectively applied to improve air quality and
reduce air pollution, depending on local urban
2) How the responses of environmental factors are
integrated through planning and management in
urban areas in Romania?
In recent decades, the impact of air pollution on
health has been intensively studied by researchers and
has highlighted the correlation between high levels of
air pollution and conditions such as allergies,
respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.
This effect is particularly prevalent in urban centers,
where there has been an increase in mortality rates
and a reduction in life expectancy, as well as high
economic costs for cities and health systems
(Goodsite et al., 2021).
At the first WHO global conference on air
pollution and health in 2018, air pollution was
described as a "silent public health emergency".
Medical motivation is statistically expressed by the 7
million premature deaths annually due to the effects
of air pollution, of which about 4 million are due to
air pollution (outside). Besides, to reduce life
expectancy, air pollution has a clear negative impact
on our daily lives, triggering respiratory illness,
medical leave, hospitalizations, and loss of education
and careers. In general, children are more vulnerable
to air pollution: because exposure to air pollution in
early childhood, in a phase of lung development,
crystallizes in the reduction of lung capacity that
persists into adulthood (Goyal et. al. 2020; Rao et al.,
Among the key pollutants of short duration, which
has a negative influence on human health, we
a) Black carbon (BC, also known as soot) which
is part of the composition of fine particles (particulate
matter - PM, especially 2.5 μm - PM2.5), which is the
air pollutant with the most harmful effect on human
health and the main initiator of mortality caused by
air pollutants. Also, PM is related to genotoxicity and
b) Methane (CH4) is a precursor to ground-level
ozone, which is the cause of asthma and other
respiratory diseases, leading to premature deaths
related to air pollution. Ozone also harms plants,
resulting in crop losses of $ 11-18 billion annually
(Yan et. al, 2018).
Air pollution with various pollutants comes from
a wide variety of sources, such as road transport,
agriculture, thermal power plants, industry, and
households. In urban centers, vehicles are a primary
source of mobile pollution. The development and
implementation of local policies, at different levels,
to address these phenomena in their complexity is a
difficult task, given the different geographical
locations and economic activity, which converge on
the idea that there is no universal solution to combat
pollution air. However, to reduce exposure and
subsequent adverse effects, local authorities through
effective and long-term measures must limit local
pollutants, such as sources, demographics, transport
infrastructure and the local economy.
In the literature are presented many sets of tools
and methodologies for the use of city authorities in
Local Political Measures to Improve the Air Quality in Urban Areas in the Context of Sustainable Development
environmental planning and management (Bălănică,
et. al, 2019; Iordache, and Dunea, 2013; Năstase et
al.,2018; Paraschiv and Paraschiv, 2019; Oncioiu et
al., 2020; Charini et al., 2021).
Real-time air quality parameters are evaluated
using 100 stations in Romania by the National Air
Quality Monitoring Network (RNMCA, 2021), in the
process of air quality assessment is performed by
performing measurements at fixed points or by
applying numerical methods by mathematical
modeling following the dispersion in time of
pollutants emitted into the atmosphere.
In Romania, there are three types of regimes: A, B,
and C associated with the zones and agglomerations
for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and nitrogen
oxides, suspended particles, lead, benzene, carbon
monoxide, ozone, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel,
and benzo(a)pyrene. In the case of zone A, the
evaluation of the ambient air quality is performed by
performing measurements at fixed points, but in
exceptional cases, mathematical modeling and/or
indicative measurements can be applied. For zone B
the assessment of ambient air quality involves the
application of fixed-point measurements and
modeling and/or indicative measurement procedures.
In the case of zone C, the assessment of ambient air
quality is done only by modeling procedures or
objective estimation techniques.
The directions of action proposed by the National
Strategy for Sustainable Development of Romania for
the period 2030, propose an overall political vision of
the measures to be implemented at a national level.
In the case of urban areas in Romania, we consider
that they can be applied extensively with efficiency in
the policies of local administrations for the
improvement of air quality and the reduction of air
pollution, the following measures depending on local
improving the sanitation activity of urban
expanding pedestrian areas and encouraging
compliance with the provisions of the building
permits, with all the documentation related to
the environmental agreement, and of other
specialized approvals for the completion of the
investment objectives;
compliance with the provisions of
environmental legislation and the conditions
stipulated in the regulatory acts for
construction sites;
observance of the maximum time limit
approved for the execution of municipal works
(repair works of public roads and restoration of
green spaces);
location of hypermarkets in the peripheral areas
of urban areas;
extensive application of integrated air quality
management programs for urban
agglomerations and ensuring public access to
real, online information on air quality;
increasing the number of thermally
rehabilitated homes and blocks of flats;
finding solutions for upgraded variants of some
district thermal power plants with high
modernization of public transport lines with
electric vehicles;
introduction of the intelligent traffic light
system and arrangement of above-ground and
underground parking lots;
implementation of some bypasses of the urban
areas, through the ring roads;
application of an efficient national program for
decommissioning of old vehicles;
the location of the locations of the large
industrial platforms on the outskirts of the city,
in the opposite direction from which the wind
acts with predilection;
implementation of new non-polluting
economic activities in the services sector and
closure of highly polluting systems;
application of ecological projects and programs
correlated with the socio-economic
development strategy;
attracting private investors for the exploitation
of alternative energy resources (technology
parks) and the introduction of renewable
energy sources (especially hydropower and
solar energy);
projects for national and international
financing programs in the field of use of
renewable resources.
intensifying collaborations with institutions
specialized in urban issues;
increasing the areas of green spaces compared
to the spaces occupied by constructions;
the application of ecological anti-skid material
in order not to favor its resuspension in the
ambient air at the contact with the wheels of the
motor vehicles;
rehabilitation of the used road network and
efficiency of the road traffic;
modernization of the car park (means of public
transport, e.g. vehicles with power supply);
promoting public transport;
limiting the influx of cars in the central area,
ISSDRI 2021 - International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure
efficient recovery of renewable energy sources;
attracting private investors who use clean
technologies and developing "green"
technology centers and parks;
application of "greenhouse" type programs, by
promoting systems that use solar, geothermal,
wind energy, and other systems that lead to
improved air quality.
In this article were proposed a series of local political
measures that can be applied in the context of
sustainable development in urban areas from
Romania, considering the provisions of the Romanian
legislation for the evaluation of air quality under
national and European Union standards.
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Kramar, I., Marynenko, N. (2019). Seasonal and spatial
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Local Political Measures to Improve the Air Quality in Urban Areas in the Context of Sustainable Development