Local action with global impact: The case of the grow observatory and the sustainable development goals

Raquel Ajates*, Gerid Hager, Pavlos Georgiadis, Saskia Coulson, Mel Woods, Drew Hemment

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article reports on Citizen Observatories’ (COs) potential to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), reflecting on the experience of the GROW Observatory (GROW). The research aims to take the first steps in closing the gap in the literature on COs’ potential contributions to the SDG framework, beyond quantitative data contributions for indicator monitoring. Following an analysis of project activities and outcomes mapped against the SDG framework, the findings reveal GROW’s potential contributions across two dimensions: (i) Actions to advance the implementation of goals and targets through awareness raising and training; participatory methods; multi-stakeholder connections; and supporting citizens to move from data to action and (ii) Data contributions to SDG indicator monitoring through citizen-generated datasets. While earlier research has focused mostly on the latter (dimension ii), CO activities can impact numerous goals and targets, highlighting their potential to relate global SDGs to local level action, and vice versa. These findings align with the growing literature on COs’ ability to bring together policy makers, scientists and citizens, and support changes to environmental policy and practice. Furthermore, this research suggests groundwork activities that address the goal and target level can also enhance sustained data collection to contribute to indicator level monitoring. We conclude with future trends and recommendations for COs wishing to contribute to the SDGs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10518
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Citizen Observatory
  • citizen science
  • co-design
  • open data
  • participatory policy making
  • SDG indicators
  • sustainable development Goals


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