Options Winter 2021: Dilek Fraisl researches how citizen science can provide data needed to monitor progress on the UN Sustainable Goals (SDGs).

Portrait of Dilek Fraisl © M.Silveri | IIASA

Fraisl’s interest in alternative data sources developed after joining IIASA in March 2016 as a researcher working with citizen science. Previously, her research was around sustainability issues and she was aware that many countries, particularly developing countries, struggle to put together the data needed to measure progress towards sustainable development.

Identifying how alternative data sources like citizen science can bridge these gaps and applying these approaches to complement official statistics and monitor the SDGs, has been the focus of her research at IIASA.

“Our research has shown that citizen science has the potential to contribute to all 17 SDGs and that around 33% of the SDG indicators could be supported through citizen science initiatives. These findings have generated a lot of interest among policy- and decision-makers responsible for developing and implementing the global indicator framework for the SDGs and their targets,” she explains.

To facilitate the use of citizen science in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs, Fraisl has been part of efforts to establish a network-of-networks aimed at offering a coordinated point of entry for governments and business partners seeking to collaborate with the global citizen science community.

“We have been working with the global citizen science community to establish the Global Citizen Science Partnership, which is hosted at IIASA. Through this initiative, we will be able to provide tools, procedures, guidelines, and data for citizen science to facilitate effective engagement with the SDGs,” she adds.

By Rachel Potter