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
This Community of Practice is dedicated to stimulating exchange and cooperation between practitioners from the fields of Citizen Science (CS) and Open Science (OS). The aim is to, in general, increase, enrich and consolidate understanding across these two movements, and, as particular occasions of cooperation arise, accompany and feed into the UNESCO global policy process on Open Science. If you are interested in maximising the opportunities for collaboration among CS & OS practitioners to make further advances together at the global level, please be invited to join this CS & OS CoP by signing up here. Below, you find more information on the rationale of the CoP, how we work and how you can become engaged.
Background & rationale for the CS & OS CoP
Open Science, the movement working to make research more open, accessible, efficient, democratic and transparent, has been developing since the late 1990s. Citizen Science, the movement enabling participation throughout various stages in research and innovation processes and making research accessible and relevant to the interests of individuals and communities, has been developing in parallel and benefiting from many of the technological advances that have allowed Open Science to flourish.
Now in the context of pressing planetary challenges, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has identified the need to encourage science to be more connected to societal needs and as an enabler of equal opportunities to allow everyone to participate and benefit from what Open Science can offer. UNESCO launched a global consultation on Open Science to support the development of a UNESCO Recommendation on Open Sciencewhich shall be adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in 2021.
The global Citizen Science community has been invited to contribute to this process and its first contribution is a short paper on ‘Global Citizen Science perspectives on Open Science’ where the views of 63 citizen science practitioners from 24 countries were synthesised into the paper responding to UNESCO’s key themes. This paper can be found here. This was an important step to ensure that the global Citizen Science community could seize the opportunity to feed into the formal UNESCO process for developing a global policy and regulatory agenda on Open Science.
The Citizen Science and Open Science Community of Practice has been established under the umbrella of the GCSP, which will allow it access to learn from all the networks of Citizen Science communities across the world to enrich the UNESCO consultation process for the Recommendation. 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.
There is now significant expertise within both the Open Science and Citizen Science movements and this is an opportune time to consider together how to maximise the opportunities of collaboration to make further advances together. In order to “bring citizens closer to science”, the work that the Citizen Science movement is doing to “leave no one behind” and develop co-creative processes which engage communities in research and learning which is relevant to their concerns, is fundamental and can make a significant contribution to the aims of Open Science and UNESCO.
Initial Terms of Reference of the CS & OS CoP
The participation of the CS & OS CoP is a major opportunity for influencing the uptake of Citizen Science by providing a reflection of evolved 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, the CS & OS CoP within the GCSP 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" is modeled after the WeObserve project, which defines the role of a CoP as consolidating practice-based expertise of citizen science, sharing information and resources, and working to further develop best practice guidelines and toolkits for citizen science.
Medium-term goals of the CS & OS CoP (per 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.
The CS & OS CoP brings together citizen science and open science practitioners interested in supporting continuous engagement between UNESCO and global citizen science communities throughout the consultation process and who want to better understand and facilitate opportunities for collaboration between citizen science and open science communities at the global level.
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.
Moreover, we aspire to make one of the early activities of this CoP the ‘refining’ the short paper that was submitted to UNESCO into a peer-reviewed publication, via a collaborative process among CoP members.
We have already received UNESCO’s approval to proceed with our approach of managing input to the UNESCO process through a dedicated GCSP CoP, with the aim of collecting and synthesizing diverse citizen science perspectives as input to the UNESCO Recommendation. UNESCO has approved Uta Wehn as the primary contact, willing to be accountable for working with members of the GCSP CS & OS CoP to provide input to the UNESCO Advisory Committee for the Recommendation on Open Science. Together, Uta Wehn, Claudia Göbel and Libby Hepburn are acting as interim co-Chairs of the GCSP CS & OS CoP to bring this work forward
Our next steps are:
- Circulate the invitation as widely as possible to join the CS & OS CoP as an observer or as a contributor;
- Promote the ‘Global Citizen Science perspectives on Open Science’ short paper via the GCSP website and through the global citizen science associations’ networks;
- Hold two initial online workshops in July (different time zones) to co-create the objectives, ways of working and the action plan of the CS & OS CoP (based on the successful We Observe approach for co-creating CoPs); and,
- Make decisions on ‘refining’ the short paper that was submitted to UNESCO into a peer-reviewed publication, via a collaborative process among CoP members.
JOIN THE CS & OS COP!
Are you a Citizen Science and/or Open Science practitioner and enthusiast? Then you are warmly invited to join this CS & OS CoP! You can join as an observer or as a contributor.
It is important that you formally sign up via this form, in order for us to comply with privacy regulation and to make sure you are included in all relevant communication and activities.
We hope that you will join this exciting opportunity and help shape this CoP to the needs of its members!
Any questions and for further comments, please contact Uta Wehn.
GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES ON OPEN SCIENCE AND CITIZEN SCIENCE (side-event from the ECSA 2020 Conference)
This event was to share the background to the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science and how the global citizen science community has responded to their request for input into this process and the establishment and work of the Citizen Science and Open Science Community of Practice.
Here is the link to the recording of the session, our contributors and the timings of their presentations and Q&A, also relevant comments from the Chat.
We would like to thank ECSA for the opportunity to share our work and the ECSA team for all their technical help and support. If you have any questions or would like to join the CoP, please contact us.
Message from UNESCO
This message to the CS&OS CoP has been received from Ana Persic Head of Section at UNESCO:
"We are happy to inform you that a milestone has been reached in our process with the first draft text being sent to the UNESCO Member States last week https://en.unesco.org/news/milestone-unescos-development-global-recommendation-open-science We hope to have captured the key messages from the citizen science community and will be open for further comments and suggestions for improvements. A more official message will be sent to you in this regard in the next few days with more information on how to engage with the next steps of the process. With many thanks for your precious collaboration”.
In 2019, CODATA established a Task Group focusing on Citizen Science for the SDGs – Aligning Citizen Science outcomes to the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the goal to understand challenges and opportunities for citizen science to contribute to the SDGs. The members of the TG interacted with experts at the UN, Governments, NSO, and citizens, and it became clear that some of the limits to engagement and adoption of improved data collection practices lie in misunderstanding and miscommunication between the two groups. For CS data to be useful for the SDG, CS groups need to be aware of UN requirements and criteria, which are often hard to understand due to the jargon and complexity of official descriptions.
To explore the extent of this challenge, the TG "translated" a selection of SDG indicators into layperson’s language, ie. five indicators it produced a compendium including concepts and definitions of the goal, target and indicator; a global overview on the current progress in attaining the target; the computation method and an example of implementation; the rationale, significance and consequences of implementing the indicator; and suggestions on how a citizen can participate and contribute.
INDICATOR 3.1.1: Maternal Mortality Ratio
INDICATOR 11.6.1: Proportion of municipal solid waste collected and managed in controlled facilities out of total municipal waste generated, by cities
INDICATOR 13.1.2: Number of countries that adopt and implement NDRR strategies in line with the Sendai Framework for DRR 2015-2030
INDICATOR 15.5.1: Red List Index