Observing the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities in Citizen Science

The WeObserve project hosted a special event, “Observing the Environment: Challenges and Opportunities in Citizen Science”,held on 9 Oct 2019 in Brussels in cooperation with the European Commission. It brought together four sister projects on Citizen Observatories (COs) for Environmental Monitoring, funded by H2020 and launched in 2016, and commission representatives working closely with citizen science initiatives.

The participating CO projects (LandSense, GROW Observatory, Scent, and Ground Truth 2.0), which have either concluded their activities or are in their final year, showcased their achievements and shared best practices. The focus of the event was an exploration of the challenges facing COs to generate forward-looking solutions and recommendations that can help improve sustainability and increase impact for ongoing and future COs.

The WeObserve project has identified three key challenges for mainstreaming COs that framed the event discussions:
1. AWARENESS – Improving awareness of COs and citizen science activities;
2. ACCEPTABILITY – Increasing quality and acceptability and showcasing the added value of COs;
3. SUSTAINABILITY – Creating longer-term systems and transition processes that can sustain and scale up CO activities.

Within the three key challenges, and based on their experiences in running COs, the attending project representatives presented obstacles facing COs. Following the presentations, in-depth discussion sessions further explored select obstacles and sought to formulate forward looking recommendations and solutions for the benefit of ongoing and future CO projects. A designated breakout group tackled each of the three challenges: Awareness, Acceptability, and Sustainability. Event participants were able to consecutively join two of the three topical discussion groups.

The event concluded with a fishbowl, a moderated concluding conversation among the four CO representatives, the Commission representatives and audience participants. In this session the participants gave a look at the extent to which the current COs have contributed to the mainstreaming of citizen science within the Commission and its outlook, identified future steps and potential risks, while ended up on strategy to overcome the risks and to mainstream citizen science.

Download here the presentations that took place during the COs joint event: