Paytm CEO Takes on UN Role to Combat Air Pollution
As Sri Lankan cricket players recently discovered, India’s air pollution issue has escalated as Paytm CEO steps in as UN Environment’s Patron for Clean Air.
A European satellite recently sent back pictures from its position in orbit tracking air pollution around the world, the images sent back to earth showed pollution drifting from Indian power plants, the worst of this pollution runs from north of Patna in Bihar to south of Raipur in Chhattisgarh. The pollution seems to mostly be caused by power plants and traffic-heavy cities.
In the aftermath of one of Delhi’s worst periods of pollution, last year, no criminal cases were brought against any individuals or industries under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act of 1981. Furthermore, the Central Information Commission does not have access to any annual data regarding the number of Pollution Under Control certificates submitted.
With such dreary news of India’s air pollution problems established, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, CEO and founder of Paytm, has been appointed as the UN Environment’s Patron for Clean Air. Vijay will be a champion of the UN’s #BreatheLife campaign, which hopes to improve the lives of 90% of the world’s population by improving the unsafe air they currently inhale. Half of the world’s 20 most-polluted cities are in India.
There are three key areas of improvement which Sharma has identified: first is active use of electric vehicles. Second, creating awareness of the problem of pollution, and third, better measurement of India’s air quality over the next year and a half. Sharma said, “Delhi is like a mother who is saying she is in pain. This starts from Delhi and becomes a national and global concern.”
Speaking on the appointment, Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment, said,“tackling pollution requires all of us, citizens, governance, and business to come together. We need more champions in the private sector like Mr Sharma to drive innovation that will get us to a cleaner future.”
Manav Prakash, founder and CEO of Bip.Fund, a platform for cryptocurrency investment, said, “It is quite important for Indian CEOs and entrepreneurs to feel a moral duty towards the environment and towards society. Entrepreneurs especially are suited to this task, since we build products on innovation, and innovation is the solution to many problems that India faces environmentally, socially, and economically.”
Vijay sold his first company at 21 and quit the bankroll it provided to start On97, which then turned into Paytm. It was ultimately his hunt for big projects which got him noticed, so advancing the cause of global air quality might be just the mammoth task he’s looking for.