Knowledge for Change: A decade of Citizen Science (2020-2030) in support of the SDGs

14-15 October 2020

WeObserve is proud to partner with the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin for the organisation of the conference ‘Knowledge for Change: A decade of Citizen Science (2020-2030) in support of the SDGs‘ which was held in Berlin and online on October 14-15, 2020. The conference presented, evaluated and discussed the exciting contributions that citizen science made in framing and achieving sustainable development, specifically the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Various stakeholders including policy makers, institutional and citizen scientists, economists, NGOs and civil society were brought together to share experiences about mechanisms and processes that can enable the transition towards a more sustainable future.

The conference addressed topics around citizen science such as:

  • Citizen science for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, e.g. good health and well-being, quality education, life on land and below water
  • Policy and scientific methodology of citizen science to implement the SDGs
  • Scientific benefit of citizen science networks and platforms and their impact on society

WeObserve conference sessions

In the context of the conference, WeObserve organized a full session thread on October 15, aiming to promote the vision of making Citizen Observatories integral to environmental monitoring at a European and international level. The sessions involved interactive formats and were targeted to Citizen Observatories and community based initiatives, citizen science (CS) practitioners, researchers, policy and decision makers, government officials, NSOs, and European Commission officers, including also UN agency representatives and data communities. Further details about each session are presented below.

Format: Speed talks + Q&A from participants (online) [Watch the recording!]

Session organiser: Valantis Tsiakos

This session invites contributions from Citizen Observatories (COs) and projects that identify as such, to join for an interactive ‘meet-and-greet’ session and to showcase CO tools and innovations that support sustainable development. This session provides an overview of the current landscape of COs and present innovations from them, such as new methodologies and conceptual models, as well as data innovations from hackathons, innovation and open data challenges. Alongside selected contributions, the WeObserve project presents a co-design toolkit to generate ideas for new COs for public participation, environmental monitoring and disaster management in the context of the SDG framework, as well as results from the WeObserve Open Data Challenge.

Format: Symposium + Q&A from participants (online) [Watch the recording!]

Session organiser: Dilek Fraisl

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015 as a call to action to tackle the world’s greatest challenges such as poverty and climate change. With its 17 goals, 169 targets and 247 indicators, the SDGs reflect a data-driven and society-oriented framework that requires a collaborative effort from all levels of society to achieve the future we want and to leave no one behind. Crucial to their success is timely, reliable and comprehensive data that are difficult to gather using traditional sources of data alone, such as censuses and household surveys. Coupled with these traditional methods and other new sources of data such as Earth Observation (EO), and mobile phone data, citizen science has an immense potential to address these data gaps. A recent study by Fraisl et al. shows that citizen science data have the potential to contribute data to 33% of the SDG indicators. This session aims to demonstrate the value of citizen science data for tracking progress of the SDGs, drawing upon concrete examples that outline the use of citizen science data by NSOs and UN agencies. We will discuss the challenges and barriers for the uptake of citizen science data for feeding into SDG monitoring processes, and how we can bring it into the scope of official statistics through recognition by governments, national statistical offices (NSOs), the UN system, and other data producers and users, from the perspective of the representatives of all these stakeholders.

Format: Speed talks & panel discussion (online)

Session Organiser: Uta Wehn

Achieving the SDGs requires behaviour change of individuals as well as organisations on unprecedented scales. This session addresses the transformative potential of CS and COs towards the SDG agenda. It aims to position CS and CO as integral policy measures and support measures for disaster management and emergency response and not ‘just’ as instruments for monitoring policy attainment.


Steffen Fritz, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis [Presentation]
Mel Woods, University of Dundee [Presentation]
Stijn Vranckx, Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) [Presentation]
Valantis Tsiakos, Institute of Communication & Computer Systems [Presentation]
Michele Ferri, Alto Adriatico Water Authority [Presentation]

Format: Short presentations, online marketplace [Watch the recording!]

Session organiser: Valantis Tsiakos

This online session aims to provide an overview of a series of innovation activities of downstream applications and value creation of Citizen Observatories (COs) outputs and data for business, policy and EO stakeholders (including SMEs and industry, but also other downstream audiences, such as government agencies, emergency managers and policy makers). The main focus lies on the results from the WeObserve Open Data Challenge and hackathon that harness the value of citizen science data for tackling real world environmental challenges as well as promote aspects of interoperability between COs. Additionally, success stories where citizen science data are combined with conventional sources of Earth Observation data are presented.