J-PAL South Asia and Community Jameel reaffirm their commitment to increase clean air and water access with the launch of SARWA

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Community Jameel have launched the Solutions and Advancements through Research for Water and Air (SARWA) in India, at an event in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat. The J-PAL-led climate lab is part of a network of Air and Water Labs that build on the work of J-PAL's King Climate Action Initiative and the foundational support of King Philanthropies.

Under the leadership of executive director Shobhini Mukerji, J-PAL South Asia will work with national and state level government teams to help India achieve its environmental health and climate goals, by accelerating the generation and use of scientific evidence and data in policy design. The lab will engage with India's ambitious climate plans including the National Clean Air Action Plan and the Jal Jeevan Mission for drinking water.

SARWA is a long-term, multi-stakeholder effort that strengthens collaboration between strategic government partners, researchers, NGOs and donors. The programme enables partners to co-identify critical air and water challenges and opportunities for policy innovation and build policymakers' capacity through access to and use of high-quality air and water data. Partners co-design potential solutions based on existing evidence and monitor their progress through data, then co-generate new evidence based on randomised evaluations of pilot programmes and support the scaling of policies that are found to be effective.

During the SARWA launch event, J-PAL South Asia signed two letters of intent at the launch event; one with the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), and another with the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board. J-PAL's partnership with GPCB is already underway. Based on a randomised evaluation by J-PAL affiliated researchers Michael Greenstone, Nicholas Ryan, Rohini Pande and Anant Sudarshan in which an emissions trading scheme in Surat led to an emissions reduction of 20-30% amongst participating plants, the pilot programme is now expanding in highly-polluted clusters in Gujarat.


The G20 meeting concluded earlier this month in India’s capital, New Delhi, once again brought the health of the planet into sharp focus. The leaders of the G20 countries, in their joint declaration, impressed upon the need for urgent action to “address environmental crises” and emphasized the significance of healthy ecosystems to prevent environmental degradation and water scarcity.

This international pledge comes at a crucial time.

Two of the most fundamental necessities for human survival are under stress today: clean air and water. Polluted air and water are causing people to live shorter, sicker, and less productive lives. And it threatens to reverse the decades of progress we have made in poverty alleviation. Solutions are scarce as the availability of rigorous evidence and data to characterize the extent of the challenges is limited.