Paper exploring the conceptual framework for the development of civilian science methodologies.


  • Doug Weir, Conflict and Environment Observatory.
  • Dan McQuillan, Goldsmiths, University of London.
  • Robert A. Francis, King’s College London.


Legal and policy initiatives to address the environmental dimensions of armed conflicts and their impact on people, ecosystems and sustainable development are highly dependent on the availability of environmental data from conflict-affected areas. Socio-political and security conditions in these areas often impede data collection, while traditional models of post-conflict environmental assessments are limited in scope. In response, an increasing range of actors is utilising remote sensing and open source data collection to identify and estimate health and ecological risks during and after conflicts.

This paper considers the role of participatory citizen science methodologies in complementing both remote monitoring and post-conflict assessments. It examines existing models and mechanisms for environmental data collection and utilisation in conflict contexts, and the extent to which the core values and principles of citizen science are transferable.

We find that ‘civilian science’ is feasible and could be well-suited to conflict conditions. In addition to addressing gaps in data collection, it may also empower communities affected by environmental degradation, enhance their environmental human rights, supplement the often limited monitoring capacity of governmental agencies and facilitate cooperation and peacebuilding. The paper concludes by proposing methodological approaches for three common forms of environmental degradation associated with armed conflicts.

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