Realising the potential: Citizen observatories for social innovation and sustainability

We live in the age of Big Data, yet many areas of environmental management are still suffering from a lack of relevant data and information that impedes sound decision making. A highly relevant phenomenon is therefore the so-called citizen observatories whereby the observations of ordinary citizens, and not just those of scientists, are included in earth observation and environmental conservation. The key aspect of observatories is the direct involvement of user communities in the data collection process: collecting data via an innovative combination of easy-to-use sensors and monitoring technologies as well as harnessing citizens’ collective intelligence, i.e. the information, experience and knowledge embodied within individuals and communities (e.g. using apps and social media). Advanced citizen observatories can even enable a two-way communications paradigm between citizens and decision makers, potentially resulting in true (e-)participation and profound changes to existing governance processes. As such, they can contribute to social innovation in terms of increased citizen participation in governance processes, strengthened community resilience as well as improved sustainability of distinct areas of environmental management.

In order to realise the potential of such ICT-enabled citizen observatories, this workshop examines emerging experience with setting these up. We will examine the need and the potential of the citizen observatories to increase (e-)participation in local governance processes, i.e. changes in the degree of citizen influence in the decision making processes of various areas of environmental management in their local community, and the extent to which this may lead to improved sustainability of the cities or regions in which the observatories are being set up. The objective of the workshop is to validate emerging approaches for realizing the potential of citizen observatories in terms of social innovation and sustainability, consolidate insights into concrete lessons learned, and to produce guidelines for future citizen observatories.

Time and date: Wednesday 27 August, full day

Room C03 Clarion Hotel

Organizer: Uta Wehn, UNESCO-IHE


Price: 200 SEK excl. VAT