Special Issue "Citizen Science Projects for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Development Goals"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sustainability and Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Luigi Ceccaroni
E-Mail Website
Chief Guest Editor
Earthwatch, Oxford OX2 7DE, UK
Interests: citizen science, environmental science, artificial intelligence
Ms. Dilek Fraisl
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Center for Earth Observation and Citizen Science, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg 2361, Austria
Interests: SDGs; SDG monitoring; environmental monitoring; data revolution; citizen science
Dr. Stephen MacFeely
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Statistics and Information Branch, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Geneva CH-1211, Switzerland
Interests: SDGs; big data; data revolution; trade; gender; regional statistics; input-output
Mr. Stephen Parkinson
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Earthwatch, Oxford OX2 7DE, UK
Interests: citizen science; environmental monitoring

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Humans are destabilising the global biosphere on multiple fronts. They are taking more and more resources out of the environment while pumping back into it enormous quantities of waste and poison, thereby changing the composition of the soil, the water, and the atmosphere. They are hardly even aware of the myriad ways in which they disrupt the delicate ecological balance that has been shaped over millions of years. Consider, for example, the use of phosphorus as a fertiliser. In small quantities, it is an essential nutrient for the growth of plants. However, in excessive amounts, it causes eutrophication. Modern industrial farming is based on artificially fertilising fields with plenty of phosphorus. The high-phosphorus runoff from the farms subsequently negatively impacts rivers, lakes, and oceans, with a devastating impact on marine life. A farmer growing corn in Iowa might thus inadvertently kill fish in the Gulf of Mexico. As a result of such activities, habitats are degraded, animals and plants are becoming extinct, and entire ecosystems such as the Australian Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon rainforest might be destroyed.

Citizen science has proven to be a cost-effective method to characterise changes in local environments. Based on the collaborative effort between scientists, agencies, and the general public, citizen science can fill some information gaps, providing sustainable solutions to environmental challenges. Citizen science offers the further benefit of improving the participation and understanding of local populations in managing their local environment.

The main aim of this Special Issue is to bring together studies and projects to develop and provide the means for implementing solutions to measure progress in improving environmental quality with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) indicators, based on citizen science and involving low-income population groups, in any part of the world. Achieving the SDGs is underpinned by monitoring and reporting 169 targets through 231 unique indicators, in an evolving framework, which are used for tracking progress. To date, monitoring SDGs remains reliant mainly on traditional sources of data (i.e., censuses, surveys, administrative records), yet this could benefit from the integration of new and complementary data streams, including from citizen science and community-based monitoring (Fraisl et al., 2020; Fritz et al., 2019). The projects need to maximise the impact of citizen science monitoring by involving as many players as possible, and especially low-income communities, especially in the Global South. The projects can, for example, evaluate and test citizen science tools, methods, and technologies that measure parameters that are identified as locally and nationally relevant in various topics such as good ambient water quality, marine litter, biodiversity, and air pollution, among others. The projects should enable the involvement of as many players as possible currently using citizen science to, for example, monitor environmental quality and lead to better monitoring of SDG indicators. Projects can highlight their strong links with citizen science networking organisations in Australia, the US, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, or organisations such as the World Water Quality Alliance. Available organisations to deploy the citizen science solutions should be mentioned.

The editors encourage submissions that explore citizen science projects which contribute to solving the environmental challenges related to the sustainable development goals. Examples of projects and applications of citizen science in any domain and related to any SDG are welcomed.

References

  • Fraisl, D., Campbell, J., See, L., Wehn, U., ….Fritz, S. (2020) Mapping citizen science contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Science of the Total Environment.
  • Fritz, S., See, L., Carlson, T., Haklay, M., ... West, S., (2019) Citizen Science and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Nature Sustainability, October 2019, 922-930.

Dr. Luigi Ceccaroni
Ms. Dilek Fraisl
Dr. Stephen MacFeely
Mr. Stephen Parkinson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • participatory/participation
  • citizen science
  • environmental management
  • SDG monitoring
  • data quality
  • capacity development
  • impact assessment
  • costs
  • benefits
  • interoperability
  • standardisation
  • innovation

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
Citizen Science and the Sustainable Development Goals in Low and Middle Income Country Cities
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9534; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179534 - 24 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 736
Abstract
Progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is monitored using a set of targets and indicators. Gaps in official datasets have led to calls for the inclusion of data generated through citizen science (CS) and allied approaches. Co-benefits of CS mean [...] Read more.
Progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is monitored using a set of targets and indicators. Gaps in official datasets have led to calls for the inclusion of data generated through citizen science (CS) and allied approaches. Co-benefits of CS mean these approaches could also contribute to localising, defining, and achieving the SDGs. However, mapping of current and potential contributions is needed, as well as an understanding of the challenges these approaches present. We undertake a semi-systematic review of past and current CS projects and assess them against dimensions of CS—spatial, temporal, thematic, process, and management—and their value for the SDGs set out by Fritz et al. in 2019, focusing on low and middle income country (LMIC) cities as key environments in the battle for sustainability. We conduct interviews with project leaders to further understand the challenges for CS in these contexts. We find opportunities for projects to monitor and achieve a wide range of goals, targets, and indicators. However, we find fewer projects in low income countries when compared with middle income countries. Challenges include balancing local needs with national monitoring requirements and a lack of long-term funding. Support is needed for LMICs to achieve the potential of CS. Full article
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Article
Measuring the Outcomes of a Participatory Research Study: Findings from an Environmental Epidemiological Study in Kaunas City
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9368; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169368 - 20 Aug 2021
Viewed by 345
Abstract
The achievement of a sustainable urban environment and health for all requires the engagement and greater awareness of local communities on issues of environment and health. This HORIZON2020 CitieS-Health study presents the outcomes of the environmental epidemiological research on the participants’ acquisition of [...] Read more.
The achievement of a sustainable urban environment and health for all requires the engagement and greater awareness of local communities on issues of environment and health. This HORIZON2020 CitieS-Health study presents the outcomes of the environmental epidemiological research on the participants’ acquisition of new skills and knowledge as well as on health behaviour. We conducted a cross-sectional study of 1062 residents of Kaunas city, Lithuania, from 2019 to 2021. We analysed the associations between the neighbourhood environmental quality scores and health issues, and the self-reported ratings on the acquired knowledge measured using a Likert rating scale. About 42.7% of the participants acknowledged that participation in the research study improved their data collection and interpretation skills, and 58.8% of them stated that the participation improved their knowledge on the links between environmental quality and health. The participants with increased knowledge more often rated their health as “good”, had a significantly lower diastolic blood pressure, and regularly visited the natural environment. The high impact of participatory research was associated with a higher scoring of the neighbourhood environmental quality, higher physical activity, and a beneficial effect on health. The study provides scientific evidence that improving the neighbourhood environment would promote increased physical activity, such as reaching green spaces by walking, and might benefit the society. Full article
Article
Citizen Science for Transformative Air Quality Policy in Germany and Niger
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3973; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13073973 - 02 Apr 2021
Viewed by 1098
Abstract
How can citizen science projects advance the achievement of transformative air quality-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Germany and Niger? We investigate the promise of using citizen-generated data (CGD) as an input for official SDG monitoring and implementation in a multidisciplinary project, based [...] Read more.
How can citizen science projects advance the achievement of transformative air quality-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Germany and Niger? We investigate the promise of using citizen-generated data (CGD) as an input for official SDG monitoring and implementation in a multidisciplinary project, based on activities undertaken in Niger and Germany ranging from surveys, action research, policy and legislative analysis and environmental monitoring in Niamey and Leipzig, respectively. We critically describe and evaluate the great potential, but very limited actual use of CGD sources for these global goals in both contexts from technical and policy perspectives. Agenda 2030 provides an opportunity to tackle indoor and outdoor air quality in a more integrated and transformative perspective. However, we find this agenda to be remarkably absent in air quality policy and monitoring plans. Likewise, we find no meaningful links of existing citizen science initiatives to official air quality policy. We propose how SDGs-aligned citizen science initiatives could make major contributions to environmental and health monitoring and public debate, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This however requires researchers to more strategically link these initiatives to policymakers and policy frameworks, such as SDG indicators and the governance structures in which they are embedded. Full article
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