At the beginning of April, the ECSA Conference 2024 was held as the major European event on citizen science. The event, organized by the European Citizen Science Association, hosted talks, presentations, workshops and poster sessions on advances in the field of citizen science. Science For Change could not miss this special event, and we participated in no less than 9 sessions during the conference.

The event was supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Research of the Federal Republic of Austria, BOKU University, the Natural History Museum Vienna and the Austrian Citizen Science Association. 

For 3 days, Vienna became the European capital of citizen science. This year’s ECSA Conference, which brings together experts in the field of citizen science, revolved around the theme of ‘change’. And when it comes to change, Science For Change has a lot to say, because it is in our DNA. 

Several people from the Science For Change team joined this international event, where we organized and participated in 9 interactive sessions during the conference. All sessions have been very successful in terms of participation, debate and exchange of knowledge between experts, opening a space for dialogue around citizen science and new trends, organized in the framework of projects such as ECS, IMPETUS, HOOP and STEP CHANGE, which celebrated its successful closing.


We also explored the possible link between citizen science and Living Labs, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between ECSA and ENoLL in 2023 to increase collaboration between the two communities.

Finally, our co-design methodology based on hexagonal pieces was very well received. The new methodological kit called ‘Tools For Change’ was presented by Dr. Blanca Guasch, who has developed the kit as a result of her research in the framework of the Torres Quevedo grants, from the Spanish Programme to Develop, Attract and Retain Talent, and which will soon be available in our shop.

In general, the participants who used the kit at the ECSA Conference highlighted its ease of use, its inclusiveness at different levels (colour-blind, dyslexic, introverted, people who do not speak the language well, different cultures, etc.), the bright colours that invite participation and help to categorize, the fact that you can draw and write, the ease of erasing, the ease of moving, grouping and reorganizing ideas, and, finally, the reduction of waste in this type of activity

Blanca Guasch

Co-design manager at Science For Change

The different workshops dealt with topics such as inclusivity in citizen science projects or support for the practice at national and European level, thus giving continuity to the results of the Mutual Learning Exercise on citizen science, promoted by the European Commission in 2022-2023, in which Rosa Arias participated as an expert. 

One thing is clear: citizen science makes science advance in all fields of knowledge in an inclusive manner. But in order to advance, more resources are needed for projects to be sustainable and maintain their communities. Achieving tangible impacts takes time, and especially getting those impacts reflected in public policies that are more aligned with society’s needs to address complex challenges, such as a climate emergency or a pandemic. At a time when digitalization and artificial intelligence are advancing by leaps and bounds, we cannot leave anyone behind. The opportunity is enormous, including the generation of new datasets for monitoring the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but institutional support for the practice must continue.

This necessary paradigm shift was reflected in the conference programme. While previous editions had focused on the methodologies used, the presentation of project results, data collection tools or their validation, the 5th ECSA Conference has delved into how to demonstrate the potential of citizen science and collaborative research as an agent of positive and transformative change for society in all its areas, while acting as a tool to manage such change

Rosa Arias

CEO and Founder

The future of research is through collaboration, so collaborative science emerges as an innovative practice that allows the active participation of any person in science and involves the democratization of knowledge. There is no turning back if we want to successfully tackle complex challenges in our society. Active collaboration between different agents is key, and we must all contribute to this. In this necessary look ahead, collaborative research becomes a unifying force that not only transforms the way we address the world’s challenges, but also how we understand and actively participate in the scientific process. 

Despite growing recognition of the practice, there is still a need for more support from public institutions and greater recognition in the research curriculum. The European Commission has recurrently funded citizen science projects in its recent framework programmes, through specific calls under the Science with and for Society programme in H2020, and transversally under the umbrella of public participation and co-creation in Horizon Europe. However, the future European Research Framework Programme (FP10, as it is known until now) is being defined, and it seems that the term will need to be redefined or included under a larger umbrella, such as public participation in science, open science or collaborative research. 

Be that as it may, in a world where information is key to informed decision-making, how can we strengthen support for citizen science? It is time to reflect on the transformative impact of this practice, move beyond pilot projects, and exploit the results achieved so far. It is like a long-distance race, now we have the know-how, the knowledge and the methodologies, it is time to go one step further and continue betting on collaborative science. 

And this was reflected in the ECSA Conference in 2024. SFC will continue to support this type of collaborative research, and we hope that at the ECSA Conference in 2026, which will take place in Oulu (Finland), many of these questions will be answered.

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