Joint Research Centre
Digital Earth Lab

Citizens Science and Environmental Monitoring: Benefits and Challenges

 

INTRODUCTION

Citizen Science is getting higher both, in MSs and in the EU policy making Agendas, as policy makers increasingly recognize the potential of Citizen Science as a precious and novel source of information in support to EU environment-related policies.

In this context, the JRC pro-actively contributes to scientific and technical debates about Citizen Science in the Environmental domain through the Environmental Knowledge Community,  a collaboration between different services of the European Commission (ENV, CLIMA, RTD, MARE, ESTAT, and the JRC) and the European Environment Agency (EEA) to exploit new ways of creating and exchanging knowledge related to environmental policy-making, through Initiatives supporting research and policy in the Environmental domain, including the promotion of Citizens Science for environmental Policy Making.

In particular, the European Commission action 8 of the EC Action Plan for Environmental Reporting (COM(2017) 312), promotes the wider use of citizen science to complement environmental reporting, thus providing the different stakeholders with an unique opportunity to contribute to the drafting of guidelines on how Citizen Science for environmental monitoring and reporting can applied and mainstreamed in policy making at EU level.

EVENT

To this purpose, on the 21st and 22nd of November, at the Visitor Center of the JRCs premises in Ispra, a two days' Workshop was co-organized, by the JRC and the Working Group 3, Improving Society-Science Policy Interface of the Citizens Science COST Action 15212.  This workshop represented an excellent and timely opportunity to host stakeholders groups from the policy bodies, the scientific communities and citizens' representatives together, to discuss and elaborate on the opportunities and challenges brought forward by the increasing need and use of CS approaches in support to policy making.

The Workshop acted also as a springboard for presenting the outline and intermediate findings of a recent Study procured by DG ENV: "Study on an inventory of citizen science activities for environmental policies", and very first draft of the Guidelines for Citizens Science in support to Environmental Reporting that was discussed together with a tentative Roadmap for Streamlining environmental monitoring. These very first draft documents provided useful material for discussion especially in view of developing guidance, for which this WS represented a first consultation round.

The approximately 40 participants from a number of COST Countries, Commission Services, and international Organizations active in the Environmental domain (like the ECSA and EEA), confirmed that growing interest in an increased knowledge exchange amongst Stakeholders and Citizen Science initiatives, and the need for the development for a robust, while flexible, reference architecture for the development of guidelines for Environmental monitoring and reporting, calling upon the benefits offered by Citizens Science approaches.

OVERALL OBJECTIVES

The Event offered the ground for presenting concrete and successful cases of how CS could contribute to EU policy making in the Environmental domain.

The ultimate goal of the Workshop was to provide recommendations, stemming from all stakeholders, namely from the scientific, policy and citizens perspectives, on the way forward for improving developments, promoting and accelerating the use of Citizens Science for policy making throughout Europe.

OUTCOMES AND CONCLUSIONS

The outputs from these two days joint effort and collaborative work are a collection of presentations about activities and best practices in the environmental domain area, and precious expert feedback and recommendations on a number of issues deemed to be of priority for discussion both, in terms potentialities and challenges encountered by CS approaches applied to policy making at EU and COST country level.

As a further concrete outcome, the event represented a first consultation ground offering a number of valuable experts contributions from the three main stakeholders representatives, on the very first draft Guidelines for Environmental monitoring and reporting and the related draft Roadmap.

The conclusions and recommendations for the way ahead, will be summarized in the final proceedings of the event, under preparation, that will be circulated to the participants and other interested parties together with the Workshop material.

RELEVANT LINKS

Scene setting presentations

Lightning talks on Citizen Science ecosystems

Lightning talks on Citizen Science across scales

An EU-wide inventory and analysis of selected practices - Study

Earthwatch's free training on how to run an environmental citizen science project (with particular attention for participant motivations, monitoring & evaluation and IT)