WSI newsletter highlight: Wim Clymans (Earthwatch Europe) shares his knowledge

FreshWater Watch: A citizen science approach to improve catchment stewardship and water quality in partnership.

Clymans W., Head J., Cardenas M. and Loiselle S.

Twitter: @Earthwatch_Eur, @FreshWaterWatch, @WimClymans optional: @GroundTruth20, @MONOCLE_H2020 and #citizenscience  Instagram: @earthwatch


Earthwatch is an international environmental NGO that empowers people to save the natural world by creating knowledge and inspiring action on critical environmental issues. We do this through hands-on participatory research projects that tackle the declining quality of our rivers, lakes and oceans. Our unique approach, i.e. citizen science, is to conduct scientific research in partnership with scientists, businesses, governmental agencies, decision makers, NGOs and citizens. We will share our successes and lessons learned with respect to knowledge exchange and bridging gaps between various stakeholders, and therefore present an alternative approach on how to improve water quality and management whilst contributing to the sustainable development goals.

Highlights of your presentation; why is it innovative?

The citizen science approach of increased participation and education of various stakeholders in the study and stewardship of their local environment is a major opportunity to promote more integrated approaches to water resource management, required to meet several of the sustainable development goals (SDG 3, 4, 6 and 12).

In which field of work are you mainly active?

I am a biogeochemist specialised in developing citizen science projects. I manage a global freshwater citizen science programme, FreshWater Watch, which brings together more than 40 agencies and research institutes looking at nearly 2,000 waterbodies on six continents. The project aims to identify the drivers and causes from freshwater ecosystem degradation, and to evaluate the impact of catchment management and habitat restoration projects on water quality. FreshWater Watch supports innovation projects (e.g. Groundtruth 2.0 and MONOCLE), which break new ground in freshwater research and the science of citizen science. The project also supports exploration projects which find new approaches to engage public and corporate audiences in mass participation CS projects to investigate relevant freshwater issues, and provide knowledge and understanding of freshwater issues and processes, their relevance, impact and solutions. And finally, the project supports stewardship projects that use the FWW toolkit to enable communities, businesses and practitioners to monitor and improve local freshwater catchments, and create greater awareness among local communities through education, learning and engagement elements. The focus of my work is on creating a positive change on the ground.

Why is this conference of interest to you?

As an international environmental organisation, Earthwatch Europe envisages a world with healthy freshwater systems, where responsibility for freshwater catchment management is shared among public, private sector and local communities. Water Science for Impact is an ideal opportunity for me to promote our unique approach of citizen science to conduct scientific research and identify new synergies with scientists, businesses, governmental agencies, decision makers and NGOs. Additionally, the conference offers an ideal opportunity to learn about alternative approaches to develop solutions to sustainable water management and achieving sustainable development goals. I am therefore very excited to contribute, learn and engage in discussions on how to achieve more impactful water science.


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