Working with IIASA researchers, Ghana pioneered the adoption of a citizen science approach to address the problem of plastic pollution in marine  environments. Further analysis highlighted how a similar citizen science data validation and reporting process can benefit reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in other countries.

The accumulation of plastic litter in marine environments is a major environmental challenge. Citizen science represents a potential source of data for SDG monitoring and reporting of marine plastic litter, which are  otherwise difficult to obtain.

Experts from the IIASA Novel Data Ecosystems for Sustainability Research Group of the Advancing Systems Analysis Program are at the forefront of exploring new pioneering uses for citizen science data, and their  expertise helped Ghana become the first country to integrate existing citizen science data on marine plastic litter into their official monitoring and SDG reporting framework. The result will inform Ghana’s integrated coastal  and marine management policy. This experience has provided valuable insights into how data generated by citizen scientists can inform policies at the national level while contributing to monitoring global progress on the  SDGs.

A study published in Sustainability Science, demonstrated how existing citizen science data and networks can be leveraged to address the data gap on marine litter at the national level and feed into global SDG monitoring  and reporting processes, based on Ghana’s experience. The authors also highlighted how these data and networks can help to inform relevant policies and actions at a national level with global impact.

Further info:

Fraisl, D. , See, L. , Bowers, R., Seidu, Omar, Fredua, K.B., Bowser, A., Meloche, M., Weller, S., Amaglo-Kobla, T., Ghafari, D., Laso Bayas, J.C. , Campbell, J., Cameron, G., Fritz, S. , & McCallum, I. (2023). The contributions of citizen science to SDG monitoring and reporting on marine plastics. Sustainability Science 18 2629-2647. 10.1007/s11625-023-01402-4.