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CODATA-WDS TG on Citizen-Generated Data for the SDGs

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Mission and objectives

The overall objective of the TG on Citizen-Generated Data for the SDGs is to support the use of citizen-generated data for requirements of the Result Framework proposed by the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda. Namely we focus on indicators associated with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and other high-level policy frameworks, such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the post-2020 biodiversity monitoring framework proposed by the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD). Our group is particularly involved in providing guidance for the UN Statistical Division on characteristics, quality, ethics, and sustainment of citizen-generated data. Our engagement supports the development of a framework for communities and NSOs to engage on citizen-generated data in the official monitoring of the SDGs.


In terms of data, the backbone of monitoring progress towards the SDGs and its target is the framework of 230 indicators agreed by the UN Statistical Commission’s Interagency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators and provided by national statistical offices. However, many gaps exist in the required data, as measurement of progress requires accessible, timely, and reliable disaggregated data to provide clear pictures of geographic, gender, socio-cultural, or other inequalities at scales not possible by conventional scientific approaches. Moreover, for some of the indicators, the methodology for data collection is still under development. Communities can play a role in supporting this global effort, as they are in a unique position to provide disaggregated data at local scales and of high resolution.


  1. Our work amplifies the values and contributions of citizen-generated data and in particular fitness for use by the UN and NSOs to make data work for cross-domain grand challenges.
  2. Development of a framework for evaluation of data quality and the recommendation of effective FAIR and CARE data principles and practices in this work supports the promotion of principles, data policies and practices for Open Data and Open Science.
  3. The work also highlights the hitherto poorly recognised and largely underutilized strengths and contributions of citizen-generated data by NSOs thus advancing the frontiers of data science to be interoperable and reusable.
  4. The work incorporates capacity building and inclusiveness for open science by improving data skills and functions of multi-stakeholders across sectors. It also generates content on the engagement of volunteers and subsequent learning/social/civic outcomes to support indicators.

Planned (and later on actual) activities and outputs for 2023-2025 

  • Survey citizen-generated data by region to provide visibility on their use in filling official data gaps, while challenging the scientific community to identify targeted methods to tackle the remaining gaps. 
  • Work with the United Nations Statistical Division to establish the Copenhagen framework for using citizen-generated data for the SDGs.
  • Share lessons learned for effective practices that bridge community bottom-up approaches and top-down global policy.

Past Achievements 

  • Invited experts to provide guidance for the Collaborative on Citizen Data led by the United Nations Statistical Division.
  • Participated in the UN Expert Group Meeting on “Citizen-Generated Data: A Conceptual Framework” in September 2023 in Copenhagen, Denmark hosted by the Danish Institute for Human Rights
  • Dilek Fraisl and Finn Danielsen organized the 2023 special collection: “Contributions of Citizen Science to the SDGs and International Development Frameworks” with support from member Caren Cooper the special collection editor for Citizen Science Theory and Practice.
    • Publication of group’s work on African survey: Elias, P., Shonowo, A., de Sherbinin, A., Hultquist, C., Danielsen, F., Cooper, C., Mondardini, M., Faustman, E., Browser, A., Minster, J.-B.M., van Deventer, M. and Popescu, I., 2023. Mapping the Landscape of Citizen Science in Africa: Assessing its Potential Contributions to Sustainable Development Goals 6 and 11 on Access to Clean Water and Sanitation and Sustainable Cities. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 8(1), p.33.DOI:



  • Carolynne Hultquist, University of Canterbury, NZ and CIESIN, Columbia University, NYC, USA
  • Peter Elias, Department of Geography, University of Lagos, Nigeria

The TG Secretary:  

  • Carolynne Hultquist