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Citizen Science as a Catalyst of Behavioural Change: Ideas from the #EUGreenWeek Workshop

How to deliver a net-zero world? That was the question/theme of this year’s edition of the EU Green Week. For COMPAIR and six other European projects (AURORA, I-CHANGE, PSLifestyle, SOCIO-BEE, EC4CLIM, GreenSCENT) the answer is simple: empower and upskill citizens. The group organised a workshop on 8 June 2023 to discuss this important topic, with a focus on citizen science as a driver of change toward a just, sustainable and climate-neutral Europe.

Citizen science has the power to deliver major change in the way the EU Green Deal objectives are delivered. If we can get just 15% of the population of Europe engaged to tackle behavioural change issues, nearly 70 million people would be driving change on issues such as air quality, climate change and sustainable lifestyles.

In COMPAIR we believe that citizen science is a stepping stone toward initiating change in citizens that would enable them to do their fair share for the green agenda. Pathways to change are firmly rooted in benefits that citizen science provides to participants.

Knowledge & skills: People learn about air pollution, how it affects them and the environment. They learn how to assemble sensors, how to collect and analyse data.

Social network: Citizen science is often a collaborative endeavour where people work with peers toward a common cause.

Sense of belonging: As a result, they feel more attached to their community.

Caring: Which, in turn, evokes a sense of caring for those who live there.

Behavioural change: And caring is an important catalyst of change.

Behavioural change in the context of air pollution can take many forms. It can manifest itself in protective and preventive behaviours whereby people use face mask, close windows or take less polluted routes to work. More substantive behaviour with a direct impact on the environment would entail switching to alternative travel modes (e.g. bicycles, e-scooters, public transport), fuels (e.g. heat pumps versus oil or wood) and diets e.g. more plant-based. Repeat participation in environmental monitoring and involvement in advocacy efforts are also examples of citizen science-driven behavioural change.

This is how COMPAIR started its presentation at the #EUGreenWeek2023. Watch it from 1:01:00.


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