Leaders of the United Nations Environment Program have recognized the particular and significant contribution Citizen Science (CS) can make to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
"Professional science alone cannot provide information at the scales and resolutions necessary to understand environmental change. The dominant culture of scientific expertise does not account for different ways of knowing, and often fails to engage the public. Thus, Citizen science emphasizes collaborative intelligence and co-creation to facilitate scientific and community-based solutions. Citizen science provides active and meaningful ways to fulfill the intention of treaties that call for the integration of local and indigenous knowledge."
CS practitioners globally are exploring how to contribute to the SDGs and how to best demonstrate that contribution in the data we create. We are coming together across the CS community and across the world with a common goal: the contribution CS can make to the SDG monitoring and implementation to be recognized by all relevant custodian agencies and national statistical offices, policy makers and civil society.
An SDG and CS Maximization group was established in 2018 to coordinate such activities and to develop understanding about how best the citizen science community can contribute to the SDGs. The group has short term and long term objectives:Short term
- Identify where and how CS can add value to the SDGs and help practitioners engage a the local to global scales.
- Raise the profile of the CS methodology at national and international levels, including advocacy at high level.
- Build momentum in the community and facilitate networks and partnerships.
- Support organisations that want to contribute and/or benefit from engagement with the UN 2030 Agenda
- Support CS projects and platforms that want to contribute to the SDGs
- Facilitate interoperability of projects and analysis
- Make sure that Goal 17 ”Leave no-one behind” principles of the UN Agenda 2030” are built into CS projects
- Provide tools, procedures, guidelines, data and metadata schema for CS to facilitate engagement with the SDGs.
The Global Mosquito Alert Consortium (GMAC), is the first global platform dedicated to advancing citizen science to tackle mosquito monitoring. GMAC will be an open, common set of protocols and toolkit that is augmented with modular components created to meet both global and local research and management needs. Each protocol associated with the Global Mosquito Alert Consortium will be structured around a common list of “core” fields. These fields may be augmented by additional information collected by local projects. A toolkit will list the protocols, supporting technologies, and resources such as guidance on volunteer management, information on working with decision-makers including public health agencies and pest managers, and lesson plans for bringing citizen science into educational environments. Data associated with the Global Mosquito Alert Consortium will be made available through the dynamic UN Environment platform Environment Live.
- The Wilson Center's Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP, co-host)
- The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP, co-host)
- The European Citizen Science Association (ECSA, co-host)
- The Globe Observer Mosquito Health Mapper
- The Invasive Mosquito Project
- Mosquito Alert
Photo by Johan Meuris
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is launching a global consultation on Open Science to support the development of a UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science. Citizen Science has been identified as one key element. The UNESCO Recommendation will define “shared values and principles for Open Science, and point to concrete measures on Open Access and Open Data with proposals for action to bring citizens closer to science, and commitments for a better distribution and production of science in the world”. Such recommendations are legal instruments with the aim to influence national laws and practices which the UNESCO member states will be asked to report against. As such, it is a major opportunity for influencing the uptake of Citizen Science by providing a reflection of Citizen Science practitioner views and positions from as broad a spectrum as possible and from across the globe. As UNESCO is seeking a long term collaboration with the Citizen Science community, our intention is to create a Citizen Science & Open Science Community of Practice (CoP) within the CSGP that uses the opportunity to anchor and shape the understanding, role and value of Citizen Science in the framework of UNESCO science policy.
The structure for this "Community of Practice (CoP)" is modeled after the WeObserve project, which defines the role of a CoP as consolidating practice-based knowledge of citizen science, sharing information and resources, and working to further develop best practice guidelines and toolkits for citizen science.
The activities of the CS & OS CoP shall initially be modeled closely to the process of developing the UNESCO Recommendation, which is a process of about two years calling for input from experts on different topic areas at various points in time. The CoP has appointed a contact for the UNESCO Advisory Board for the Recommendation to help channel inputs from Citizen Science communities. As we go forward, we plan to evolve the CoP activities beyond the UNESCO requirements.
How can you get involved? Subscribe to the CS & OS CoP to receive and share updates.
Short-term goals (ending May 31, 2020):
- Design and launch a questionnaire to solicit input from the global Citizen Science community on Open Science and Citizen Science.
- Analyze results of the questionnaire.
- Share results with UNESCO in the form of a short paper about Citizen Science and Open Science.
- Report back to the global Citizen Science community.
Medium-term goals (beginning June 1, 2020):
- Continue to support engagement between UNESCO and the global Citizen Science community throughout the consultation process, including thorough an “online virtual discussion on open science in the context of our regional and thematic consultations” beginning in June 2020.
- Better understand and facilitate opportunities for collaboration between Citizen Science and Open Science communities at the global level.
Interim co-chairs: Uta Wehn (IHE Delft), Libby Hepburn (SGD and CS Maximisation Group), Claudia Göbel (HoF Halle-Wittenberg)
Please Note: There will be a process to co-design the objectives and full ToR of the CoP in due course (once the short paper has been completed). By subscribing to the CS & OS CoP you can be involved in this process.
For the moment, we are intentional about a) having a process - of gathering inputs and determining the way of working together in a CoP - to be as inclusive as possible; and b) being transparent about the conditions in which we work. Transparency means, for instance, acknowledging all contributors and the challenges of producing the short paper in a very short amount of time. Altogether, this work of the yet-to-be-built CoP is not only a process of gathering inputs for a short paper but also one of developing an understanding and consolidating the global CS communities’ views of Open Science and how Citizen Science relates to it through constructive dialogue and discussion. This will bring about new learnings together, advancing the understanding from where we are now.