Recording environmental data during armed conflicts and in their aftermath is vital for the protection of people and ecosystems. However, conflicts often disrupt national monitoring programmes, where they exist, or render areas inaccessible to researchers. In response, CEOBS is exploring the potential of participatory citizen science methodologies to contribute towards data collection on environmental harm and risks in conflict and post-conflict contexts.

To date we have worked with academia to explore this conceptual framework for “civilian science”. This has reviewed where gaps in data collection exist, how data could be distributed and utilised, how it could complement remote sensing and formal environmental assessments, and how participatory community research could help empower communities affected by armed conflicts. We have also assessed different low-cost technologies and how they could be used to monitor different forms of harm. Our paper exploring the conceptual framework for civilian science is available below.

CEOBS and our partners are now in the process of designing and seeking funding for our first civilian science projects. For more information on our work please contact Doug Weir (doug at ceobs.org).

A multi-sensing device for testing water sources enables communities in Colombia to determine if the water is safe for them to use, whilst also mapping the areas of water affected by illegal mining activity, an important factor in the ongoing insecurity in areas of the country. (© Mirella Di Lorenzo, University of Bath)

Blogs

Using citizen science to assess environmental damage in the Syrian conflict

For new and ongoing conflicts across the world, the need to document their impact on civilians and the environment upon which they depend is encouraging the development of new research tools and methodologies. With civilians increasingly able to access the Internet and mobile networks, new opportunities are being created for the collection of environmental data, by experts and civilians alike.  

Publications