Akvo Foundation / Earthwatch / Gavagai / IHE Delft / Stockholm University / Upande Ltd.

Participated sustainable development: the role of citizen observatories

Tuesday 28 August | 16.00-17.30 | Room: L11
IHE Delft

Citizen observatories (COs) are community-based environmental monitoring and engagement systems that can bring local communities, traditional authorities and scientific actors together to exchange information and co-create knowledge about the environment. With the use of innovative ICT tools and online platforms, COs can mobilise collective action. Their co-design is crucial for empowering communities to be part of the solution to environmental challenges.
This interactive event will explore the opportunities of COs to foster collective action by different stakeholders as well as the challenges with CO implementation. It presents case-based evidence from the Ground Truth 2.0 project of how and with what tools and approaches COs can actually give communities agency to influence decision making.

Gold standard events are committed to ensure the gender balance in speakers/panellists and young professional representation in the session.


In this carousel session, participants need to ‘vote with their feet’, choosing from six stations. Three stations will provide insights into the outcomes of COs in two African and one European Demonstration Case. The other three stations will address cross-cutting issues such as co-designing COs, citizen engagement, and ICTs for COs and social media analytics. Following a plenary introduction to the session, participants will move from station to station every 15 minutes, with a total of three iterations. A final plenary discussion will provide room for feedback from the participants on their ‘station visits’.



How can local communities, traditional authorities and scientific actors come together to co-produce knowledge about the environment and foster collective action towards sustainability? In this session, the Ground Truth 2.0 project shared its experience with setting up citizen observatories in Africa and in Europe.
During this interactive session, participants explored the opportunities of citizen observatories to foster collective action by different stakeholders, as well as the challenges with implementation.
Three stations provided insights into the outcomes of citizen observatories in Zambia and Kenya and Sweden. A further three stations addressed cross-cutting issues e.g. namely how to co-design citizen observatories, engaging the business sector, ICTs for citizen observatories, and social media analytics. Participants had to ‘vote with the feet’ as they only had 3 turns to visit a station. Finally, they selected their favourite station and provided feedback on their ‘station visits’ in a plenary discussion.


The value of citizen observatories goes beyond the provision of data alone and extends to awareness raising, more sustainable individual and collective behaviour and giving communities agency to influence decision making. In order to derive these impacts, a truly demand-driven co-design process that is key.
From the start, such CO initiatives should ensure that the observatories can continue without project support. Efforts have to focus on supporting citizen observatories not only in the co-design process but also in their journey towards sustainability, providing them with tailored business modelling guidance.