Matías Acosta - Exploration Chief- UNDP AccLab Argentina
Citizen science is useful to engage in participatory knowledge building. Some experts suggest it is not feasible to define this concept for all contexts alike and, therefore, we propose a first approach to what we mean by citizen science, which is certainly a definition that will evolve once we have a better understanding of the practices in place in our country. We believe it is important, however, to explore its dimensions and assess its usefulness for better decision-making and sustainable development promotion in Argentina. Our initial experience shows us that it is indeed a very useful tool and that we are not all on our own in this endeavour.
Certain supranational governments, such as the European Union, national governments such as the United States, or even municipalities like Barcelona, have offices that focus exclusively on citizen science as a public innovation tool, and actively promote sustainable development. Furthermore, there are literature discussions that encourage us to explore cutting edge notions on the interconnection of citizen science projects with policies and development.
Anyhow, the context and characteristics of this discipline, as well as its potential impact can vary a lot from one country to another. We, therefore, decided to explore relevant dimensions for Argentina and understand any possible links with public policies. After conducting a collective intelligence exercise as a team, interviewing experts and analyzing several projects in our country, we identified that citizen science can:
Some references for getting to know more details: appear in biology, opentek in ancestral knowledge and inaturalist in biodiversity. Moreover, you could also get to know more about citizen science and its role in social and/or climate activism, to establish partnerships, serves to shed light on challenges collectively, impact monitoring, creation of solutions or use of knowledge, or promoting behavioral changes.
No doubt, citizen science is an innovative and participatory tool that can strategically reinforce public policies and development. Some of its dimensions could contribute to the design, formulation, implementation, monitoring or evaluation of public policies whether scientific, educational, environmental or social. We have realized that throughout the design and formulation steps, it can contribute to providing and building a pluralistic outlook that is mindful of local needs. During the implementation phase, it reduces costs whilst promoting citizens’ engagement and participation. Furthermore, it leads to developing effective impact monitoring strategies, thus bringing about transparency in public policy assessment.
At Co_Lab we are focusing on promoting synergies between citizen science and public policies, particularly centered on the environment, since it is a great tool for development. We must continue to learn and build bridges among citizens, the scientific system and the public sector. Will you join us?