In the article Mapping citizen science contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Fraisl et. al. present an overview of where citizen science is already contributing and could contribute data to the SDG indicator framework.
“Reliable, timely, comprehensive, and consistent data are critical for measuring progress towards, and ultimately achieving, the SDGs. Data from citizen science represent one new source of data that could be used for SDG reporting and monitoring.”
- Fraisl et. al., Mapping citizen science contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The paper acknowledges that although an established methodology exists for SDG Indicator 6.3.2 (which measures the proportion of water bodies in a country with good water quality), data are not regularly produced. This is because it requires substantial investment (in both financial and human resources) to organise effective data collection. Fraisl et. al. highlight FreshWater Watch as a project that “could provide meaningful contributions to the monitoring of this indicator. FreshWaterWatch has a global water quality database based on the contributions made by 8,000 + citizen scientists for more than 2,500 water bodies.”
Applying FreshWater Watch to the SDGs is written into our freshwater delivery plan; seeing this recognised in a high profile paper shows that we are already making an impact in this area.
What are the Sustainable Development Goals?
The SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. They are considered to be the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.
How does FreshWater Watch relate to SDG 6?
All UN member states are expected to monitor water quality using an index that summarises data gathered on oxygen, nitrate, electrical conductivity, phosphate and pH levels. Four of the five measures can be tested through citizen science in FreshWater Watch. The FreshWater Watch methods for these measurements have been extensively tested against professional accredited laboratory tests to ensure their accuracy.