Environmental Citizen Science and its Effects on Participants, Governance, and Innovation

Colab_2023_citizen science experimentation

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Environmental Citizen Science and its Effects on Participants, Governance, and Innovation

27 de Marzo de 2023

Climate change is accelerating its impact on development. This is a complex problem with individual and institutional dimensions that must be addressed from a systemic perspective. This report presents the results of two experiments in which we tested two environmental citizen science solutions, which demonstrate the potential of this approach to address this problem. The first was an initiative to separate household waste to evaluate its effects on the commitment and predisposition of people to care for the environment. 

Throughout the experiment, there were indications of a positive correlation between age, educational level, and the existence of pro-environmental behaviors in the participants prior to treatment. Although there were no effects observed in the variation of post-treatment environmental engagement, this can be linked to the self-selection bias of the volunteers who participated. Unlike what was expected, the control group showed an increase in their environmental engagement. This increase may be related to the participation of both groups in a survey on environmental issues which, given the lower pro-environmental bias of the control group, could have had an effect in this regard. 

Another result suggests correlations between education, age, and the increase in post-treatment environmental engagement, but the evidence was not conclusive. The second experiment was a crowdsourcing experience in aquatic ecosystems, using a mobile app that creates georeferenced environmental quality indicators. This sought to learn about the effects of citizen science on environmental governance, on increasing the quantity and quality of information obtained, and on promoting innovation in local environmental policies. In all three cities where the app was deployed, it helped collect valuable information about the state of their aquatic ecosystems. In addition, we obtained qualitative evidence of greater coordination across government areas to work on these policies. In the city where citizens took part in the mapping, the resulting data reflected a greater diversity of views and experiences on the natural environment.