The Value of Citizen Science Data for Tracking Progress of the Sustainable Development Goals

Tuesday 7 February 2023
15:00 - 16:30 (GMT)

Dr. Dilek Fraisl from the IIASA Advancing Systems Analysis Program will present at this UBDC research seminar.

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 231 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 wantand 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 lecture aims to demonstrate the value of citizen science datafor tracking progress of the SDGs, drawing upon concrete examples that outline the use of citizen science data by National Statistical Offices (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, NSOs, the UN system, and other data producers and users.



Dilek Fraisl is a research scholar in the Novel Data Ecosystems for Sustainability (NODES) Research Group of the IIASA Advancing Systems Analysis Program. She has a PhD in Sustainability Transitions from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU) in Austria, where she studied the integration of new data sources such as citizen science and Earth Observation into official statistics to address the world's greatest development challenges, from poverty to environmental degradation. She also has an MSc in Sustainable Development from the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium, the University of Padua in Italy, and Universite Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne in France.

Fraisl's research interests are sustainable development, data and statistics, Earth Observation, and citizen science as theory, practice, and evidence-base for policy development. She has worked in the areas of data governance and data management, including research on citizen science data quality. She has led and contributed to citizen science projects related to marine litter, land use, and land cover, as well as other environmental issues funded by the European Commission, UN agencies, and other donors. For example, she coordinated the 'Citizen Science for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) project' that leveraged citizen science data for monitoring and reporting of the marine litter SDG indicator in Ghana, as well as for policy and action.

Fraisl has been the chair of the European Commission funded "WeObserve SDGs and Citizen Science Community of Practice", which aims to foster collaboration and consolidate knowledge on the contributions of citizen science to the SDGs across the global citizen science-, and data and statistics communities. She has published scientific papers in areas of sustainable development, data and statistics, citizen science, and Earth Observations, and also contributed to several UN reports such as Measuring Progress: Environment and SDGs and Understanding the State of the Ocean: A Global Manual on Measuring SDG 14.1.1, SDG 14.2.1 and SDG 14.5.1 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

She has several board memberships with scientific communities, the UN, and other global initiatives, including the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics (SDSN TReNDS), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Resilience Frontiers, the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), and the Global Citizen Science Partnership (GCSP), among others. She is also involved in the organizing committees and scientific advisory boards of several European and global conferences including the UN World Data Forum.