SDGs and Citizen Science

Case StudySDGs and Citizen Science

The SDGs are a universal agenda to address the world’s most pressing societal, environmental and economic challenges. The supply of timely, relevant and reliable data is essential in guiding policies and decisions for successful implementation of the SDGs. Yet official statistics cannot provide all of the data needed to populate the SDG indicator framework. Citizen science offers a novel solution and an untapped opportunity to complement traditional sources of data, such as household surveys, for monitoring progress towards the SDGs, while at the same time mobilizing action and raising awareness for their achievement. This paper presents the potential offered by one specific citizen science tool, Picture Pile, to complement and enhance official statistics to monitor several SDGs and targets. Designed to be a generic and flexible tool, Picture Pile is a web-based and mobile application for ingesting imagery from satellites, orthophotos, unmanned aerial vehicles or geotagged photographs that can then be rapidly classified by volunteers. The results show that Picture Pile could contribute to the monitoring of fifteen SDG indicators under goals 1, 2, 11, 13, 14 and 15 based on the Picture Pile campaigns undertaken to date. Picture Pile could also be modified to support other SDGs and indicators in the areas of ecosystem health, eutrophication and built-up areas, among others. In order to leverage this particular tool for SDG monitoring, its potential must be showcased through the development of use cases in collaboration with governments, NSOs and relevant custodian agencies. Additionally, mutual trust needs to be built among key stakeholders to agree on common goals that would facilitate the use of Picture Pile or other citizen science tools and data for SDG monitoring and impact. Nature Reviews Methods Primers