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SEI brief

How could citizen science support the Sustainable Development Goals?

Citizen science approaches have the potential to support the definition, monitoring and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Sarah West, Rachel Pateman / Published on 16 November 2017

Sarah West and Rachel Pateman (2017). How could citizen science support the Sustainable Development Goals? Policy brief. Stockholm Environment Institute.

citize scientists nonthaburi
Citizen scientists in Nonthaburi, Thailand, explore the benefits of their home gardens. Photo: Vanessa Hongsathavij.

Tracking progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires high-quality, timely and accessible data, often in areas where very little data exists.

At the same time, the SDGs demand public engagement, not only to keep up pressure on governments and businesses to take action, but also to generate the societal transformations required to bring the goals within reach. Citizen science could make important contributions in both of these areas.

This brief introduces the concept of citizen science and discusses how it could support the implementation and monitoring of SDGs. It also sets out some of the challenges of this approach. It includes concrete examples of how citizen science could be applied to the SDGs. The brief draws upon a decade of experience at SEI of working with citizen science approaches.

Download the brief (1.9 MB)

SEI authors

Sarah West

Centre Director

SEI York

Rachel Pateman


SEI York

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