TCI Forum Dialogue #5: Citizen Science as a Collaborative Approach to Address Climate Change

Silvania Utami
Wed, 23 Aug 2023

On August 16th, 2023, Kota Kita collaborated with Kaleka to organize the fifth TCI Forum Dialogue titled "Collaboration in Addressing Climate Change: The Citizen Science Movement," which focused on exploring innovative and participatory methods, such as citizen science, to address the climate crisis. 

Moderated by Gerhard E. Sebastian from Kaleka, the speakers included Kota Kita's Bima Pratama, Rahmadiyono Widodo from BW Kehati, and Zellia Handyman from Kaleka. In the online discussion attended by 75 participants, each speaker shared their experiences in implementing citizen science and the challenges and opportunities of such efforts.

The discussion explored the significance of alternative approaches, such as citizen science, in climate research, particularly in bridging public involvement in data collection and enhancing comprehension of climate change for the wider public. It highlighted how citizen science has fostered closer collaboration among communities, environmental experts, and the younger generation, activating a sense of solidarity and strengthening public engagement. For instance, BW Kehati has explored gamification principles for data collection to promote Indonesia's biodiversity issues, according to Rahmadiyono. 

Another aspect of citizen science, according to Kota Kita's Bima Pratama, is capacity building, which is why Kota Kita's Urban Citizenship Academy sought to equip young urban leaders with practical data collection skills to conduct action research initiatives. "Youths can act as a connecting link between generations for efficient communication on climate issues. They possess strong digital skills and can easily collaborate in the digital era. However, there is room for improvement in their grasp of the issues, notably how they can better understand the context and provide tangible solutions," said Bima Pratama, Urban Designer at Kota Kita. 

The discussion also honed into data validity, particularly how alternative approaches such as citizen science can maintain its validity. Zellia from Kaleka suggested utilizing secondary data as a reference point, allowing cross-referencing and validation across various regions. "One approach for data validation is to prepare secondary data for reference, especially when assessing weather patterns. It is crucial to assemble a significant number of farmers in a specific area for data collection and cross-referencing," said Zellia. She noted that having specific indicators and parameters will also contribute to the success of a citizen science project. Kota Kita's Bima also stressed the importance of collaboration with universities to enhance scientific rigor. Meanwhile, Rahmadiyono from BW Kehati emphasized that successful citizen science efforts hinge on tailored communication in knowledge sharing so that every citizen scientist is well-prepared and comprehends the necessary data and collection methods.

The discussion concluded with a common understanding that citizen science has the potential to promote collaborative effort that needs solid validation strategies, tailored preparations, stakeholder engagements, and a commitment to continuous improvement. However, organizations seeking to implement such an approach must pay extra attention to strategy in building strong, time-series data so that the findings could serve as the basis for future interventions.

To accelerate more effective climate policies, Kota Kita and other partners in the Think Climate Indonesia initiatives have been exploring alternative partnerships, such as citizen science, that highlight the involvement of marginalized communities directly impacted by the climate crisis. These activities will continue in the coming months. Follow Kota Kita's social media channels and the channels of WRI Indonesia, KEMITRAAN, PATTIRO, and Kaleka to stay updated!