Campaign for clean air and healthier public spaces

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Passionate about clean air and healthier public spaces for physical activity in your city? Join the Cityzens for Clean Air campaign!

What’s the Cityzens for Clean Air Campaign about?

The Cityzens for Clean Air campaign, part of the UrbanBetter Cityzens initiative, aims to amplify youth voices with advocacy on air pollution, climate and health using citizen scientist data generated by young people.

The campaign is highlighting

  • the existing inadequacies in the measurement of air quality within rapidly urbanising African cities and the importance of access to healthy public spaces conducive to physical activity
  • the crucial role that young people can and should play in developing interventions that shape the urban health environment for health and climate resilience.

What did we do?

Watch the project video here.

Using an open call for applications, young people aged 18-35 years in Cape Town, Accra and Lagos were invited to apply to be citizen scientist runners. In each city, successful applicants attended a 2-day workshop between July and September 2022 to co-design and implement a campaign on clean air, physical activity and healthy public space.

The citizen scientists, also known as Run Leaders, each designed a running route and recruited members of the public to join them on their run. The routes were designed to capture diverse socio-economic levels across the cities. Between July-September 2022, Run Leaders, joined by over 200 other co-runners they’d recruited, took to the streets of Cape Town, Accra and Lagos to run their designated 5-10km routes.

During the runs, they collected data on air quality using wearable sensors. Using a bespoke mobile application, citizen scientists also captured multimedia (photo, audio, video, text) geocoded data on aspects of the built environment that influence health and perceived sources of polluted or clean air encountered during the run.

These data were integrated on the Cityzens interactive data platform enabling cityzens to interrogate how the data the captured using the app compared to the data from the sensors.

What happened next?

In late September/early November, the Run Leaders were re-convened in a second workshop in each city. They reviewed the results from the data they generated during their runs and used this information to design an advocacy campaign that they implemented in October and November in the run up to, and at, the COP27 meeting in Egypt.


The advocacy campaign was in 2 parts:

  1. Between late October – early November, there were clean air runs organised by Run Leaders across Cape Town, Lagos and Accra.
  2. On the 10th November, to coincide with the Youth and Science-themed days at COP27, there was a social media campaign to highlight the importance of air pollution as central to both health and climate, the inadequacy of measurement in most cities, the inequity within cities and the critical role that young people can play in devising solutions. 

In addition, this initiative was showcased in Egypt at the COP27 meeting in various sessions in the Youth and Health Pavillions and in an exhibit from 10-12 November at the COP27 venue.

How did the public participate?

1. From October to early November, members of the public joined one of the runs in Lagos, Accra or Cape Town and took photos of themselves / their group running. They made banners using localised slogans in the advocacy toolkit designed by Run Leaders.

2. Runners living in other cities organised their own run with friends and took photos of themselves / their group running, also using the banners and advocacy toolkit designed by Run Leaders. 

3. On 10 November, everyone added their voices to the issue and joined the social media mobilisation for clean air by:

  • Posting their photos and videos from the various runs using the hashtags #CleanAirAccra  #CleanAirLagos  #CleanAirCT #Cityzens4CleanAir #CleanairCOP27
  • Sharing their opinions on Twitter, Instagram and Instagram on air quality in Africa or globally using pre-drafted social media posts from the advocacy toolkit 
  • Looking out for posts using the hashtags  #CleanAirAccra  #CleanAirLagos  #CleanAirCT #Cityzens4CleanAir #CleanairCOP27 to like, share, retweet
  • Sharing this message and toolkit with family and friends and encouraging them to join in runs and on social media on 10 November. 


Check out the COP27 activities and outputs 


Read a selection of the project’s media coverage..


2024 and beyond…

We are now in the process of scaling the Cityzens initiative as the UrbanBetter flagship advocacy pillar. And are seeking new partners to join this movement. Get in touch !


Find out more about the UrbanBetter Cityzens mission..

..& Join us to make the UrbanBetter, one breath and one run at a time…

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