Webinar: Sustainable and healthy living environments – How to mobilize citizens’ knowledge?

Activity: Other


Resolving pressing sustainability problems, such as climate change or loss of biodiversity, requires firm evidence-base. The generation of evidence typically prioritizes expert knowledge although the decisions aiming at sustainability often influence the lives of citizens or demand committed action from them. It is widely recognized that professional knowledge alone is not sufficient in tackling the complex societal problems.

Citizens have knowledge about their living environments that could inform better policies. But how to mobilize people’s own knowledge about their local environments into decision making? Growing number of citizen science initiatives demonstrate how large crowds can be enrolled in collecting data about environmental changes, often with the help of digital tools. They enable novel forms of interaction between citizens, science and policy making. The long tradition and debates on participatory research in social sciences point out, however, the need to reflect on the quality and outcomes of these interactions.

This webinar focused on the experiences and methodologies developed in response to the increasing hunger for data about sustainability and citizens’ narrow role in expert-led decision making. How do new ways of knowing and doing research, including digital interfaces, networks and interactions, change the relations between citizens, science and policy making? Does participation in the production of knowledge lead to shared understanding? How to do citizen science in a way that responds to the concerns of citizens? What kind of in/equalities or hierarchies remain or result from the expanding and intensifying use of participatory approaches and how these could be addressed?

The webinar brought together experiences and observations from methodologies that aim to expand the role of the citizen in data-driven environmental decision making. The three presentations outlined the potential and value of co-design and citizen science in public decision making aiming at sustainability, drawing from experiences in integrating citizen science in food policy in the UK and discussing methodologies for strengthening citizens’ voice for health equity.
Period25 May 2022
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • citizen science
  • webinar
  • living environment