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See detailExploring the potential of citizen science for more adaptive and sustainable surface water governance in Luxembourg
Pickar, Karl Arthur UL

Doctoral thesis (2021)

The following Ph.D. thesis describes a research project, which aimed to explore the potential of environmental citizen science to contribute to more adaptive surface water governance in Luxembourg and ... [more ▼]

The following Ph.D. thesis describes a research project, which aimed to explore the potential of environmental citizen science to contribute to more adaptive surface water governance in Luxembourg and beyond. Citizen science projects are research projects, which are marked by the active engagement of members of the public. Adaptive governance refers to a type of governance, which is based on the engagement of diverse types of knowledge, perspectives, and stakeholders, and on building adaptive capacity in the face of unforeseen change and coordination across levels and scales. The research contributes to the conceptual development of citizen science in the context of adaptive governance and provides an example of a co-design process with a focus on building a citizen science tool for the exploration of social-ecological systems. In addition, the thesis contributes to practical development by identifying a set of opportunities for change of current data collection and meaning-making towards more adaptive surface water governance in Luxembourg and by making first experiences with surface water citizen science in Luxembourg, while engaging multiple place-based, regional, and national partners. Towards the above-mentioned goal, the research project, first, examined the current data collection programmes and meaning-making approaches for the governance of surface water bodies in Luxembourg. Prevailing practices are discussed based on key criteria for adaptive governance based on relevant academic literature. The research project, then, examined different approaches to environmental citizen science as alternative and complementary data collection programmes and meaning-making approaches in view of their potential to contribute to more adaptive surface water governance.The research project set out to do so by taking a transdisciplinary sustainability science research approach. The methodology encompassed (1) semi-structured qualitative interviews with specialists in the water domain and documentary review to gain insights into the current data collection programmes and meaning-making approaches in Luxembourg, (2) the trialling of two contributory surface water citizen science projects based on the Freshwater Watch citizen science tool by Earthwatch, an approach, in which volunteers are called upon to engage in data collection designed by scientists, and (3) the co-creation of surface water citizen science projects with interested groups based in Luxembourg centred around co-design workshops, in which the co-design partners were invited to explore changes and challenges and to develop sets of parameters for investigating the state of surface water bodies based on their research interests. In line with other studies, the findings show that citizen science can, indeed, constitute new sources of data on surface water bodies and, thus, increase data availability. Citizen science can lead to datasets on multiple temporal and spatial levels, and may increase overall transparency (of, for example, data on water quality). It can also contribute to more transparency in the meaning of data and increase the capacity for individual meaning-making. The findings show, in particular, that citizen science can increase the diversity of approaches to data collection and meaning-making, as projects constitute channels for the engagement of different knowledge types and can utilise new funding sources with alternative funding criteria. In addition, the case studies have shown that citizen science is particularly useful for complementing current official data collection, in particular, with respect to data from smaller water bodies, and for linking ecological data with social and technological data for a faster detection of changes in the system and a better grasp of the evolution of drivers of change. Interestingly, the study suggests that contributory citizen science may be better suited for the initial engagement of those, who are not specialised or professionally engaged in the water domain. Specialists and professionals, in turn, showed a bigger interest in engaging in co-design. [less ▲]

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