Updated 09/08/22

January 2022 – June 2025

Ghana, Thailand, Egypt, Benin, Senegal, India, Vietnam, Kenya


Air pollution is a global environmental and health problem. Although it has become a major concern in the large cities of the Global South, few of them manage to tackle this pollution effectively. According to WHO (2016), air pollution plays a direct role in 4.2 million deaths worldwide each year. Urban dwellers in the Global South bear most of this burden: Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) countries account for 90 % of the mortality associated with ambient air pollution. In recent years, the gap between high-income countries and LMICs has widened regarding the management of air pollution issues. In the Global North, where air pollution has been on the policy agenda since the 1960s, major improvements have occurred during the past three decades. Improved scientific knowledge, better emission monitoring, infrastructure investments and more stringent regulatory norms and standards have led to a substantial decrease in air pollution compared with the 1970s.

97% of cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants in LMICs do not comply with WHO air quality guidelines. This situation results from the conjunction of rapid population growth, economic development and poorly managed urbanization. But despite the alerts raised by scientists and international organizations such as WHO or UNEP, public policies aimed at improving urban air quality remain underdeveloped or ineffective in a majority of Global South cities.

Nairobi, Kenya

© GlobalSmog


The core objective of GlobalSmog is to identify and explain the technical, social and political processes that negatively or positively influence the management of air pollution in cities of the Global South, and through this study to improve the theoretical and practical knowledge on urban and multi-level public policy processes in the Global South.

Working with the tools of the sociology of science, urban geography, political anthropology and the sociology of policy-making, researchers involved in this project will explore the social construction of ambient air pollution both as a global and as a local issue, the way it is embedded in socio-technical representations of health, the environment and the economy.

  • To better understand the role of international cooperation and globalization processes for the framing of air pollution issues and circulation of knowledge
  • To better understand the interplay between scientific knowledge and policy in the context of the Global South
  • To explain and analyse the local social processes of issue framing and agenda setting around ambient air pollution in LMIC cities
  • To analyse cross-sectoral policy making in the context of large LMIC cities
  • To formulate policy recommendations in order to foster better policymaking and implementation for the cities of the Global South

Nairobi, Kenya

© IRD - Bérénice Bon


Scientific coordination


French National Research Agency (ANR)



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