Behavioral change for reduced air pollution

Behavioral design
Behavioral change activites


Air pollution causes serious health problems to the citizens in Skopje, North Macedonia. A survey carried out by UNDP in 2017 shows that 45% of the households are heated with firewood, 31 with electricity and only 21 % are connected to and use the central heating system. This project seeks to test how behavioral science could be implemented to tackle air pollution in the city of Skopje and lead towards improvement of the air quality and the overall quality of life.

Four local projects

The idea was to support local organizations in Skopje to conduct behavioral change activities that will downscale the effects of air pollution through conducting nudge(s). Through an open call, four local projects were selected to address air pollution in different ways. To strengthen all four teams’ capacity to implement a behavioral science approach, the UNDP brought in a behavioral change consultant (Ida Lemoine from Beteendelabbet).

This project and its four case studies should be seen as the first step in the process. Applying behavioral science in mobility and energy consumption gives the potential to support consumers in making more energy-efficient choices, and can over time lead to reduced air pollution. All the four projects together managed to:

🚴‍♀️ get more citizens to walk and bike instead of taking the car for shorter distances by introducing a behavioral challenge.

💡 change habits in terms of how households used electrical appliances and reduce energy consumption by 7%.

🏘️ raise community awareness and mobilize citizens to participate in educational activities about the effects of air pollution and to apply for energy efficient subsidies for more green heating systems at home.

👩‍👩‍👦‍👦 create different “Eco and energy efficient profiles” of people living in Skopje that will help future policy makers towards a more human-centric approach in its energy policies, laws, regulations, and subsidies for the citizens in Skopje.

Now what?

The recommendation is that the UNDP should continue its work and support more projects across the country in conducting nudges and behavioral change activities. And the best way to create this big movement, where everyone involved can learn from one another, is with a Behavioral Change Program/ Learning platform. This learning platform can unite multiple stakeholders to collaborate and learn from one another what works and what doesn't. In the long run, this model can accelerate a global green behavioral movement for reduced air pollution.

Read more about the projekt in this UNDP blog post


  • This project is prepared by Ida Lemoine at The Behavior Lab within the project "Tackling Air Pollution in the City of Skopje" implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in North Macedonia in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning and the City of Skopje. The project is financially supported by Sweden. The views expressed in this case are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sweden, UNDP North Macedonia or the other project partners.

Air pollution is a complex issue that requires a multi-stakeholder approach in understanding and creating long-term solutions

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