How Citizen science projects can support UN Sustainable Development Goals

We are excited to see the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) Database being used in this paper to explore how citizen science projects measuring beach plastic debris can support the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. The UN established the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework for sustainable development, including SDG 14, which aims to reduce marine pollution, specifically plastic debris. However, national data on plastic debris has been limited, despite citizen science projects collecting relevant information for SDG reporting.

Plastic Pollution: The paper sheds light on the pressing issue of plastic pollution, which poses significant threats to our oceans and ecosystems. It emphasizes the need for innovative approaches to tackle this problem and highlights the role of citizen science in driving effective solutions.

Citizen Science: Citizen science involves ordinary people actively participating in scientific research and data collection. It’s a powerful tool to combat plastic pollution, as it engages local communities in monitoring and mitigating plastic waste. The AMDI network of citizen scientists has more than 1400+ organisations that have contributed marine debris data since 2004. By involving citizens, we can tap into their knowledge and foster collaboration between scientists, governments, and communities.

Sustainable Development Goals: The study highlights the alignment between citizen science, plastic pollution, and the SDGs. It emphasizes how citizen science initiatives can contribute to Goal 14 (Life Below Water), which has target 14.1, “By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds…including marine debris.” Under this target, there is a national-level indicator for plastic debris density on beaches. Citizen science initiatives like AMDI collect relevant data which can be used by Australia to report their national plastic debris density on beaches.

Key Findings:

  1. Citizen science provides an inclusive and participatory approach to address plastic pollution by involving communities in data collection, raising awareness, and implementing sustainable practices.
  2. Engaging citizens in plastic pollution monitoring fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility, leading to more effective and contextually relevant solutions.
  3. Citizen science initiatives focusing on plastic pollution can contribute to the SDGs, particularly Goal 14 (Life Below Water) and the national plastic debris density indicator.

The AMDI Database, along with other citizen science initiatives, provides valuable data that helps bridge the data gaps necessary for effective SDG reporting. By synergizing efforts between citizen science communities and governments, we can make progress in preventing and reducing plastic pollution in our oceans

If you’re interested in delving deeper into this important topic, check out the full paper here

Thank you to our colleagues at the Global Ocean Accounting Partnership and the Australian Citizen Science Association in producing this paper and thank you to all of our AMDI partners who are working to reduce plastic pollution in our oceans.

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