Join the Fight for Climate Justice: Citizen Science

Climate justice is a term that explains not just climate change, but also the social and political issues that go along with it. Some countries and communities pay a higher price for climate change than others. This includes acknowledging the communities that are most affected by the climate crisis.

Each country and community have a role in climate justice, no matter how big or small. Climate justice encompasses social and political knowledge, supporting the fight against climate change. It aims to create a fairer, more sustainable world.

What are citizen scientists?

Citizen scientists are members of the public who participate in global projects. Take a look at our article on citizen scientists for more details.

An example of this is tracking invasive mosquitos species migration around the globe. Proponents can encourage the public to take pictures of mosquito specimens and upload them to an app which tracks their migration. Citizen science can have a lot of power and use in big global projects. It can also draw attention to important topics such as climate justice.

Why are citizen scientists important when it comes to climate justice?

Citizen scientists can bring a lot of power to certain projects—especially projects that need more awareness. Using citizen scientists in certain projects can widen access to learning. In addition, citizen scientists also contribute toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by providing global data and helping to monitor these world-wide projects.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

There are 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals in total. They’re all tailored to global justice—for example, fighting world hunger by ending all poverty in all forms. Citizen scientists can provide real-life data for these goals globally, helping to monitor the progress of these goals. In particular, citizen science has been found to contribute to several of these goals, including:  life on land, sustainable cities and communities, good health and wellbeing, clean water and sanitation.

MDPI’s contribution to climate justice using citizen scientists

One example of this is a project that involves citizen science participation in natural resource management. This study, carried out in Indonesia, aims to restore degraded land to its natural soil base following years of tin mining. The aim is to repair the soil’s nutrients, allowing it to become more suitable for agricultural purposes. Increasing the number of agriculture options provides a viable livelihood option for residents. This project had small-holding farmers as citizen scientists helping to regenerate the land. It was not a traditional citizen scientist approach; however, it did encourage communication between local smallholder farmers and stakeholders. This created an opportunity for both communities to communicate and work together for climate justice.

Another example is citizen scientist projects based on the sustainability and conservation of bees. Bees are a crucial part of the ecosystem. In recent years, the public has become more aware of their importance to the environment. Many members of the public have even taken up beekeeping as a hobby.

In addition, like mosquitos, bees are small, and because of this, they can be easily photographed and monitored. A recent systematic review compared citizen science studies conducted on bees. It found that these kinds of projects are already contributing to scientific research. They also identified a lack of these types of studies being conducted, due to a lack of available volunteers. This was attributed to a lack of knowledge of citizen science, and it was identified that more awareness is needed of the subject.

Importance of open access in citizen science

Pairing open access and citizen science can have a lot of power and impact. For example, the study in Indonesia demonstrates the importance of open communication between communities. This is what open access can achieve: it can open up important information to a wider audience. In addition, choosing open access publications for citizen science projects can increase the awareness of these types of projects.

Increasing awareness allows for more willing participants and new citizen scientists to form. This can have multiple advantages for sustainability, open access, and future research.

If you’re interested in open access and sustainability, check out our journal Sustainability, which is dedicated to supporting research for environmental, cultural, economic and sustainable projects.