Using citizen science data to monitor the Sustainable Development Goals: a bottom-up analysis

Laura Ballerini, Sylvia I. Bergh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Official data are not sufficient for monitoring the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): they do not reach remote locations or marginalized populations and can be manipulated by governments. Citizen science data (CSD), defined as data that citizens voluntarily gather by employing a wide range of technologies and methodologies, could help to tackle these problems and ultimately improve SDG monitoring. However, the link between CSD and the SDGs is still understudied. This article aims to develop an empirical understanding of the CSD-SDG link by focusing on the perspective of projects which employ CSD. Specifically, the article presents primary and secondary qualitative data collected on 30 of these projects and an explorative comparative case study analysis. It finds that projects which use CSD recognize that the SDGs can provide a valuable framework and legitimacy, as well as attract funding, visibility, and partnerships. But, at the same time, the article reveals that these projects also encounter several barriers with respect to the SDGs: a widespread lack of knowledge of the goals, combined with frustration and political resistance towards the UN, may deter these projects from contributing their data to the SDG monitoring apparatus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1945-1962
Number of pages18
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Partial financial support was received from the John Stuart Mill College (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


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