EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The Potential Role of Citizen Science for Addressing Global Challenges and Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Dilek Fraisl, Jillian Campbell, Linda See, Uta Wehn, Jessica Wardlaw, Margaret Gold, Inian Moorthy, Rosa Arias, Jaume Piera, Jessica L. Oliver, Joan Maso, Marianne Penker, and Steffen Fritz
Dilek Fraisl et al.
  • International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria,

The contribution of citizen science to addressing societal challenges has long been recognized. The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as an overarching policy framework and a roadmap to guide global development efforts until 2030 for achieving a better future for all, could benefit from the potential that citizen science offers. However, there is a lack of knowledge on the value of citizen science, particularly in addressing the data needs for SDG monitoring, among the UN agencies, national statistical offices, policy makers and the citizen science community itself. To address this challenge, we launched a Community of Practice on Citizen Science and the SDGs (SDGs CoP) in November 2018 as part of the EU Horizon 2020 funded WeObserve project.

The SDGs CoP brings together citizen science researchers, practitioners, UN custodian agencies, broader data communities and other key actors to develop an understanding on how to demonstrate the value of citizen science for SDG achievement. The initial focus and the main objective of the SDGs CoP has been to conduct a research study to understand the contribution of citizen science to SDG monitoring and implementation. In this talk, we will present the work of the SDGs CoP. We will first discuss existing data gaps and needs for measuring progress on the SDGs, and then provide an overview on the results of a systematic review that we undertook within the CoP, showing where citizen science is already contributing and could contribute data to the SDG framework. We will provide concrete examples of our findings to demonstrate how citizen science data could inform the SDGs. We will also touch on the challenges for and barriers to the uptake of citizen science data for the SDG monitoring processes, and how to bring this source of data into the scope of official statistics.

How to cite: Fraisl, D., Campbell, J., See, L., Wehn, U., Wardlaw, J., Gold, M., Moorthy, I., Arias, R., Piera, J., L. Oliver, J., Maso, J., Penker, M., and Fritz, S.: The Potential Role of Citizen Science for Addressing Global Challenges and Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-7453,, 2020


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displays version 1 – uploaded on 28 Apr 2020
  • CC1: University rankings, Maria Bostenaru Dan, 02 May 2020

    I think that a good example are THE university rankings, which have now a ranking according to the UN sustainability goals. The ranking has also an expert opinion component. Can this be seen as citizen science?

    • AC1: Reply to CC1, Dilek Fraisl, 04 May 2020

      Citizen science is, very broadly defined, "public participation in scientific research. I don't see a link between citizen science and university rankings, if I understood the questions correctly. 

      • CC2: Reply to AC1, Maria Bostenaru Dan, 04 May 2020

        Sorry for responding late, I was enjoying the chat.

        I was asked by such a ranking to name universities outside my own country which are good from this or that point of view. But I agree that they invited me as an expert.