Source: European Commission, 2018.


Citizen science is a powerful tool for environmental management that has the potential to inform an increasingly complex environmental policy landscape and to meet the growing demands from society for more participatory decision-making. However, the evidence that Citizen science can successfully contribute to environmental policy development, implementation, evaluation or compliance remains scant.


In this sense, the aim of this study was to provide the European Commission with an evidence base of citizen science activities that can support environmental policies in the European Union (EU).





The five-fold objectives of this study were to:

  1. Develop a comprehensive inventory of environmental citizen science projects, spanning the range of environmental fields and geographical contexts in the EU;
  2. Develop criteria and assess how the projects in the inventory contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); Citizen science for environmental policy
  3. Assess the conditions under which citizen science can best support environmental policy, through the selection and analysis of selected-practices in environmental citizen science that support policy;
  4. Provide a brief assessment of main opportunities and challenges for increased citizen science contribution in environmental policy; and
  5. Develop policy recommendations on better integration of citizen science in the different phases of the environmental policy cycle, in particular for monitoring, reporting and regulatory compliance.


Three main pillars of citizen science in the policy cycle: scientific excellence, citizen engagement, and policy-relevance

Source: European Commission, 2018.


Key findings

  • Citizen science can underpin environmental policy.
  • Environmental SDGs are unevenly represented by the environmental citizen science.
  • Government support favours policy uptake.
  • Facilitating citizen engagement promotes policy uptake.
  • Scientific excellence increases the extent of policy use.
  • NGOs are key actors of environmental citizen science.
  • Policy use rests on the availability of sustainable business-models.
  • A continuum of citizen science approaches to support policy.


“The role of science in policy-making has changed over time, and coproduction of knowledge by technical experts and members of the public is likely to be very important in future decision-making and can help develop trust”.


This study is run by the Bio Innovation Service in association with the Ibercivis Foundation (ES) and The Natural History Museum (UK) and it is now available on the publications portal of the European Commission available here