The MICS project launched with a kick-off meeting in January 2019. In July, the team came together again, this time in Romania, to discuss the progress in the project so far and plan our next steps. The MICS workplan sets out four main focuses for the project: 1) developing methods for measuring citizen science impact; 2) creating toolboxes for decision makers, citizens and researchers; 3) establishing four citizen science projects; 4) disseminating the results from the project. During the meeting in Romania, we heard from each of these “work packages”.
IHE Delft leads the team developing the methods for measuring the impacts of Citizen Science initiatives. So far, the team has focused on scoping this effort, creating the methodology for developing the impact assessment framework and planning the testing of the impact assessment framework by the MICS case studies and beyond. Overall, MICS is suggesting a three-pronged approach to capturing the impacts of Citizen Science: 1) by means of Impact Stories (in close collaboration with the work of the WeObserve Community of Practice on value and impact of CS for governance; 2) the MICS Impact Assessment Framework which will be available in due time on the MICS online platform; 3) in-depth case studies. Aside from literature reviews and an empirical workshop at the River Restoration Centre Annual Conference (led by Earthwatch), the MICS Advisory Board has also provided useful feedback on the progress so far.
The River Restoration Centre leads the development of four citizen science case studies in the UK, Romania, Italy and Hungary. During the plenary meeting in July, the MICS team visited the Romania case study to see the creation and connection of the Carasuhat Wetland to the Danube River, and hear from local citizens about the project. They explained how the wetland has created new habitats and is supporting sustainable ecotourism activities. These citizens are now going to be involved in the co-design of citizen science activities to monitor environmental quality of the wetland. This was a great trip and highlighted the importance of citizen involvement in the development and monitoring of nature-based solutions.
The next challenge for the project will be initiating the co-design of the citizen science activities at our four case-study sites. Successful co-design is not always easy but we will follow best practice, using a shortened version of the approach from the GroundTruth2.0 project (led by IHE Delft) which established six citizen observatories across Europe and Africa. We will also continue to develop the online toolbox, incorporating the work already done on the MICS approach to impact assessment.