“Wake up and smell the smog!“ Parents Against Air Pollution in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Respiratory tract infection is one of the major causes of child mortality in Mongolia. In Ulan Bataar, mothers and parents claim for more strict measures to reduce air pollution.


Ulaanbaatar, is one of the 10 most polluted cities in the world. At times - especially in winter- the capital has nearly 25 times above the levels considered safe by the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:“Wake up and smell the smog!“ Parents Against Air Pollution in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
State or province:Ulaanbaatar
(municipality or city/town)Ulaanbaatar
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

-In 2012, half out of 300,000 registered cases of respiratory tract related diseases were children under five.

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Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:1.000.0000
Start of the conflict:2000
Relevant government actors:Mongolian Government;
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Mothers Against Air Pollution; Association of Moms & Dads Against Smog; Union of Parents Against Air Pollution;.
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
While epidemiological data correlating air pollution and health effects were in short supply, local citizens have long been collecting sensory and bodily evidence based on everyday engagements with pollution.
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Desertification/Drought
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming
Health ImpactsVisible: Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts, Accidents
Other Health impactsSpecific impacts on women: miscarriages. Specific impacts on children: UNICEF´s study found that the lungs of children living in the districts with the highest pollution did not function as well as those of children living in rural areas, putting them at risk of chronic respiratory diseases as they grow older. Accidents and lack of visibility: When there is a lot of smog people don´t see the red/green colour of the road lights and that can lead to potential accidents.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights
Potential: displacement
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:A movement was created in UlaanBataar against toxic air pollution. Via social media, many of the parents concerned with pollution became engaged in such a movement. Some of the voices of these parents started to reach relevant policymakers and the government has increased their budget in fighting air pollution. However much more work needs to be done to offset pollution, the health impacts it provokes mainly to the poorest people in the city.
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Urban Air Pollution Analysis for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
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Air quality analysis of Ulaanbaatar : improving air quality to reduce health impacts.
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Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

A Fight to Breathe
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Parents planning to hold third protest against air pollution
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UNICEF to facilitate discussion on reducing the impact of air pollution on children’s health
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Air pollution is endangering children’s health in Mongolia
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Air pollution and children's health - Агаарын бохирдол ба хүүхдийн эрүүл мэнд
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If you think air pollution in China has been bad, just look at Mongolia.
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Other documents

Mongolians protesting against air pollution in Ulaanbaatar. Source: Giustino Di Domenico

Date: 01.30.2017.
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Mongolian protestes against air pollution. Jan. 2017 Source: EPA
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“S.O.S.” by Munkhtsetseg Jalkhaajav. National Modern Art Gallery, Ulaanbaatar. Photo credit: Mark Leong
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Other comments:Slogans:

"Mothers Against Air Pollution"

“we can’t breathe”
Meta information
Contributor:Grettel Navas, ENVJustice Project
Last update23/08/2018