04 October 2021
Citizen science, in other words, the active involvement of non-scientists in scientific research, has been gaining ground in recent years with members of the public participating in projects ranging from sharing health information to snapping pictures of flora and fauna to help gather on-the-ground data. Data generated by citizen science initiatives have in fact become an important data source for the research community and is used extensively in studies spanning many different disciplines. Citizen science is also increasingly acknowledged on the policy level and supports increased scientific literacy among the public.
IIASA researchers have been working with the global citizen science community to establish the Global Citizen Science Partnership (GCSP). Organizations that have been part of the process to date include Citizen Science Associations worldwide, academic institutions with expertise in the field of citizen science such as the University of Geneva and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, and a number of international organizations such as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The GCSP is a network-of-networks that aims to promote and advance citizen science for sustainable development, while offering a coordinated point of entry for governments and business partners seeking to collaborate with the global citizen science community. It will also serve as a platform to promote and support networks that advance citizen science around the globe and offer strategic guidance and support to help establish new networks. Importantly, the organization aims to support the collection and exchange of open and findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR) data by formalizing a citizen science data standard, creating a data directory, and building an open data portal. This will be particularly valuable in terms of monitoring progress towards achieving the SDGs, as such an endeavor requires huge amounts of accurate, timely, and comprehensive data, which is often not readily available for many parts of the world.
“Tracking progress on the SDGs is a massive exercise in data collection and management, and strong global citizen science networks hold major potential to contribute data for this. Through citizen science, people around the world could become much more involved not only in monitoring the many indicators, but also in implementing the sustainable development agenda by contributing with their personal, everyday life choices,” notes IIASA Strategic Initiatives Program Director, Steffen Fritz.
The GCSP has already been involved in a number of global projects including running global initiatives on Citizen Science for the SDGs and the Citizen Science and Open Science Community of Practice. With the new Interim Board of the initiative, the GCSP is currently in the process of being registered as a legal entity.
“Citizen science has the potential to contribute to all 17 SDGs. IIASA research has shown that about 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 targets. Through the GCSP, we will be able to provide tools, procedures, guidelines, and data for citizen science to facilitate effective engagement with the SDGs,” says Dilek Fraisl, a researcher with the Novel Data Ecosystems for Sustainability Research Group of the IIASA Advancing Systems Analysis Program.
IIASA hosts the partnership and leads the GCSP secretariat. The partnership will be introduced, and concrete examples of how citizen science data are already used for monitoring the SDGs will be presented during a session at 10:00 CET on Wednesday, 6 October at the UN World Data Forum, which will take place in Bern, Switzerland and online. IIASA Director General Albert van Jaarsveld has also been invited to speak at the high-level plenary session of the forum on the vision of using citizen science data for the monitoring of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Registration to access the forum’s online event platform is open. Register here for access.
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna
University Of Geneva
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Australian Citizen Science Association
The Citizen Science Association of North America (Citizen Science.org)
Citizen Science Center Zurich
Red Iberoamericana de Ciencia Participativa (RICAP)
European Citizen Science Association
Citizen Science Africa
Last edited: 06 October 2021
Research Scholar Novel Data Ecosystems for Sustainability Research Group - Advancing Systems Analysis Program
Program Director and Principal Research Scholar Strategic Initiatives Program
Principal Research Scholar Novel Data Ecosystems for Sustainability Research Group - Advancing Systems Analysis Program
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