Sustainability does not work if actors embark on individual journeys. This is why citizen science as an approach that relies on the collective participation of communities and the public has been growing in popularity in recent years. It is a method of exploring and identifying important questions, collecting relevant data, and analysing it to lead the way to new discoveries and enable novel solutions. In a recently-published report, our PSLifestyle project shares the results of its cross-European investigation of the latest inspiring citizen science initiatives.

Our PSLifestyle project launched in 2021 with the goal to help close the gap between climate awareness and individual action as well as increase citizen participation in sustainability topics. To do so, the project is engaging citizens through a digital tool to collect, monitor, and analyse their environment and consumption data as well as co-research, co-develop, and uptake everyday life solutions for climate change.

In order to develop the project’s methods of citizen engagement and the digital tool, the PSLifestyle project conducted research to learn from previous and current citizen science initiatives across Europe operating in the field of sustainability. Our latest report “Citizen Science for Sustainability” provides an overview of the current context of citizen science for sustainability, emerging innovations in the field, and inspiring initiatives to refer to in designing new citizen science initiatives in the context of sustainable lifestyles. We derive our main findings from desk-based research, the analysis of 30 inspirational citizen science initiatives, and interviews with 27 stakeholders who have been involved in those initiatives.

The findings are shared under 4 key elements of citizen science projects: setting up and reaching out to participants; gathering data from and with citizens; keeping people engaged; and implementing meaningful change. From examples of gamification to engage participants to the types of partnerships needed to ensure lasting impact, the real-life examples not only provide inspiration for future projects, but also highlight ways to avoid challenges that project teams may face along the way.

In order to support learning from the case studies, the report provides information on each project’s location, scale of implementation, level of citizen engagement, and topic area as well as further detail on who is involved and how they got involved; how citizens are involved in the collection and use of data; how the initiative is organised; and why we see it as particularly inspirational. Finally, the report reflects on the key findings of the research and sets out ways in which the PSLifestyle project will build upon the work of inspiring examples as we shape the approach of our citizen science living labs in the upcoming phases of the project.

The report is designed to be a source of inspiration beyond the PSLifestyle project and support other initiatives focusing on citizen science. If you are involved in a similar initiative, we would be glad to hear about your experience, too – connect with us!

For further questions, please contact Arlind Xhelili.

Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, more tourists visited Mauritius yearly (around 1.3 million) than the island’s total population (1,26 million). For tourist operators, Mauritian authorities, and local communities, such growth is welcome, yet it raises important questions. How can the development of the tourism sector benefit the economy while reducing its footprint (resource depletion, emissions, social inequities)? Conversely, how can the handprint be increased, that is adding value to community development, cultural preservation, ecosystem quality or authentic experience? In recognition of its holistic and multi-stakeholder engagement in promoting and supporting responsible tourism, our Sustainable Island Mauritius (SIM) project has been awarded the silver medal at the World Travel Market (WTM) Responsible Tourism Awards Africa.

The WTM Responsible Tourism Awards Africa champion the best work in Responsible Tourism in the African continent. The awards aim to recognise businesses and destinations that make responsible tourism their focus, showing how they are cultivating change and pioneering creative projects that revolve around the wellbeing and sustainability of tourism and looking after the people and the landscapes that allow the industry to thrive. This year’s awards featured seven categories ranging from decarbonising travel to virtual volunteering.

The SIM project was awarded a silver medal in the category “Destinations Building Back Better Post-Covid”. In this category, several destinations that are in the process of rethinking the tourist volumes and market segments that they will attract post-Covid were considered. The judges recognised that the SIM project has been able to work with the whole supply chain from hotels/tour operators to local producers and artisans as well as local communities.

The SIM project is funded by the European Union in the framework of the Switch Africa Green programme with the objective of promoting sustainable tourism in Mauritius by demonstrating and scaling up self sustaining mechanism for improving sustainability impacts along the value chain as well as improving awareness and the market of sustainable tourism products.

SIM promotes sustainable tourism innovation for tour operators and their suppliers (hotels, taxi drivers, tour guides, artisans and pleasure craft operators) by responding to changing consumer demands and global trends and introducing sustainable consumption and production practices. The project is being led by the Mauritius Tourism Authority (TA), and implemented by the CSCP.

For further questions, please contact Kartika Anggraeni.

Photo © wtm.com

With a share of 34%, biowaste is the largest single component of municipal waste in the EU. The recycling of biowaste is key for meeting the EU target to recycle 65% of municipal waste by 2035, containing a high potential for contributing to a circular economy, delivering valuable soil-improving material and fertilisers as well as biogas, a source of renewable energy*.

The first Circular Economy Week in the city Albano Laziale is organised by our projects SCALIBUR and HOOP, funded by the EU to support cities and regions to develop circular biowaste systems. The Circular Economy Week will focus on biowaste management and circularity, aiming to raise awareness locally about circular initiatives and emerging technological solutions for the valorisation of organic waste.

Four in-person events will take place during the Circular Economy Week involving a broad range of stakeholders such as policy-makers, waste management companies, service providers, agricultural associations, business, citizens, and students. Each event will focus on a specific aspect linked to the Circular Economy and the valorisation of biowaste.

On 17 May, the Circular Economy Week will kick off with the public seminar “Opportunities for innovation and practices for the Circular Economy: The role of Albano Laziale and best practices in Europe”. To join the seminar, please register here.

On 18 May, the seminar “New frontiers for the circular economy: Investing in the bioeconomy” will address field experts and focus on economic and employment opportunities generated by new technologies. Join the seminar by registering here.

On 19 May, two participative workshops on the topic of “Circular Cities 2030” will be held to promote the involvement of students and citizens of all ages in the processes of building local scenarios and policies. Please register here to join.

The Circular Economy Week will end on 20 May with a “Circular Economy Exhibition“ at the Palazzo Savelli in Albano Laziale. The exhibition will display circular innovative products created by local companies and non-profit associations that promote reuse, circular economy, and environmental and social sustainability.

For additional information and the detailed agenda in English and Italian, please visit the websites of our SCALIBUR and HOOP projects.

For further questions, please contact Francesca Grossi.

*European Environment Agency 2020

Being prepared to effectively and timely react and operate in the occurrence of waterborne pathogen contamination events requires not only a set of tailored tools and technologies, but also effective coordination and collaboration among different stakeholder groups at the local, regional, and national level. The PathoCERT project is driving the development of novel and easy-to-use technological solutions, services and governance mechanisms to improve the situational awareness and coordination of relevant stakeholders and enable them to respond quickly and safely to threats.

To achieve this level of engagement, it is fundamental to identify and engage a whole array of stakeholders such as first responders, civil protection representatives, research organisations, universities, public authorities, and utility (water) operators. The latest PathoCERT reports detail the stakeholder engagement plan developed and implemented through the Communities of Practice in six pilot cities: Granada (Spain), Amsterdam (the Netherlands),  Limassol (Cyprus), Thessaloniki (Greece), Sofia (Bulgaria), and Seoul (South Korea).

Within the communities of practice, key local and regional stakeholders have been able to provide feedback on the PathoCERT technologies, especially on their applicability. In this way, they highlighted existing challenges and opportunities, shared knowledge and experiences to maximise mutual learning effects, and finally had the opportunity to conduct table-top exercises to initiate the testing of newly developed tools and technologies.

For additional details, please download the reports The PathoCERT Stakeholder Engagement Plan and PathoCert Communities of Practices – Best Practices and Key Learnings from our library.

For further information, please contact Francesca Grossi.

A good life within the planetary boundaries primarily means identifying and leveraging the synergies between our personal wellbeing and the wellbeing of the planet. Our PSLifestyle project is offering citizens in eight countries across Europe a platform to co-create and shape visions of the good life as well as design solutions to make such visions a reality. The project has launched Living Labs in the respective pilot cities to empower citizens to become changemakers toward the good life.

The PSLifestyle project invites citizens of Wuppertal, as one of the pilot cities, to join our Living Lab and actively engage in shaping a good life in harmony with nature. Are you on board?

Throughout six meetings, between April 2022 and March 2023, together with other community members, you will have the opportunity to:

Besides co-defining visions of the good life in Wuppertal, our exchanges will directly contribute to the creation of the PSLifestyle tool – an online tool that helps citizens become aware of their environmental impact and supports making changes to day-to-day behaviours. As Living Lab participants, you will have the opportunity to co-design the features and functionalities of the PSLifestyle tool. The meetings will be held in German.

At the Living Labs meetings, we will lead hands-on and creative discussions based on the local context of Wuppertal and by taking into account the participants’ needs and reality. The meetings will be followed up by socialising events, such as cooking together, as another way to reflect on how to make the good life possible for all.

Do you already have interesting ideas to make positive change happen? Would you like to discuss them with your fellow citizens and expand your social network? Then, join our Living Labs by registering here and let us shape the good life together!

Connect with us on Facebook and stay up to date with the progress of the Living Labs!

Take a look at our flyer and postcard (in German) and please share them with your community!

The PSLifestyle Living Labs are part of the EU funded project PSLifestyle“Co-creating a positive and sustainable lifestyle tool with and for European citizens”.  The CSCP’s main focus is on Germany, particularly the city of Wuppertal. There are 16 European partners in total delivering the project.

For further questions, please contact Arlind Xhelili.

Demands on packaging are increasing: it should be protective, stackable, informative but also practical, attractive and circular. To fulfil these requirements, consumers should be taken on board. That’s why understanding their behaviour is crucial, also in order to understand how behavioural challenges can be overcome.

Through its German Packaging Club, the Consumer Insight Action Panel has been addressing the requirements for sustainable packaging with a behavioural focus since 2019. Together, club members from retail, recycling, services, science and civil society are working on enabling the implementation of circular packaging with a consumer focus.

The EU Circular Talk “Together for Circular Packaging” will focus on exchanging insights and impressions from the Packaging Club, but also on learning from the experiences of other European countries and regions. We will look at behavioural challenges related to circular packaging and how these can be addressed. Furthermore, we will discuss the different roles and responsibilities of actors in the value chain and the potential of multi-stakeholder approaches to implement circular solutions.

Date: 5 April 2022
Time: 16:00-17:30 CET
Place: Online
Language: English
Cost: Free of charge

To join us, please register here.

The Packaging Club has recently published a paper analysing separating and sorting cues included in packaging and how effective they actually are. Read further details and download the paper in our library!

The EU Circular Talks are an exchange concept of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, to which the CSCP is a member.

For further questions, please contact Stephan Schaller.

Adriana has put years of research into analysing environmental discourses and how to turn them into policy and action, particularity in the context of her native Bolivia. As part of the CSCP, integrating social and environmental innovation in value chains and strengthening the resilience of local communities are her key focus.

How did sustainability enter your professional life?

My interest in sustainability arose when I was working at the United Nations Development Programme in Bolivia. One of the reports I worked on focused on local endeavours for a type of economy that looked at alternatives to the traditional extraction of primary natural resources in the Bolivian Amazon and lowlands. For the report, I travelled the country and interviewed different stakeholders. Seeing first-hand the impact of sustainable value chains on local and rural development in terms of preserving rural livelihoods and local cultures as well as promoting improved social and environmental conditions made a great impression on me. It inspired me to pursue my master studies in the field of Environment and Sustainable Development and align my professional aspirations tightly to the topic of sustainability. The interconnection between sustainability and local and rural development has been of primary interest for me ever since.

Is this what lead you to the CSCP?

Yes. Working at the CSCP gives me the opportunity to scale up sustainability, take action and develop ideas that challenge taken-for-granted beliefs and understandings. By looking at things holistically and by working collaboratively we create new understandings of the issues at hand. How social and environmental issues are defined and framed determines to a great extent how they will be addressed. What I cherish the most about the CSCP is the intersection between research and implementation. This offers us the chance to develop comprehensive concepts and ideas and then translate them into real action.

What is the most exciting project that you are working on currently?

I am very excited to be working on a circular tourism project in Vietnam. Traveling is enriching, yet the tourism industry takes a significant toll on landscapes, nature and cultural heritage sites. At the same time, it promotes trade, economic development, and creates jobs across different industries. Integrating circularity in the tourism sector has the capacity to generate significant change, even more so in the context of COVID-19. Despite the pandemic having posed enormous risks and challenges to tourism, it also presents with an excellent opportunity to transform and re-define tourism and take steps toward social and environmental innovation. We are trying to capitalise on this momentum and support Vietnam’s tourism sectors to use circular solutions to not just recover from the pandemic but also thrive and become more resilient

How do you think that the work you do contributes toward achieving international sustainability goals?

The TUI Vietnam project promotes the uptake of sustainability and circularity principles throughout all the different industries that are active in the tourism sector. As such, it targets challenges from plastic and marine litter through to food waste and greenhouse gas emission. In another project, the SteamBioAfrica, we are working on the development of sustainable value chains for the commercialisation of a new solid biofuel in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. The biofuel is gained from an invasive plant’s biomass using an innovative superheated steam process technology which creates high value, affordable, and secure solid biofuel. In doing so, we are aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create inclusive models that integrate women and youth in the value chains while promoting renewable energy and energy security. Such examples are clearly aligned to and in function of achieving goals set in framework such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the EU Green Deal. 

What are the biggest opportunities you have identified regarding sustainability today?

While sustainability has indeed gained a lot of traction since the debut of the term in the 1980s, I have the feeling that sometimes our notion of sustainability is stuck in time. We should not understand sustainability as a static and one-dimensional concept, but rather as a constantly-evolving and dynamic one. Thus, we should keep challenging the principles of sustainability and question its indicators and frameworks in order to ensure progress.

To close it, what is your favourite sustainable lifestyle habit or hack?

I love giving things a second (or third) life. It makes me happy when I can give new purpose to things that I no longer use or things that other people no longer use or need. Buying second-hand clothes and helping organise flea markets is something I like a lot.

For further question, please contact Dr. Adriana Ballón Ossio directly.

In his private life, he keeps bees to promote biodiversity. What can’t be done in the back yard, he takes to the work desk, where he engages with key stakeholders and leads collaborative processes to protect and preserve biodiversity. This is Frank Augustin, the new project manager at our Sustainable Infrastructure, Products and Services (SIPS) team.

How did your journey at the CSCP start?

I have always been interested in both the theoretical as well as practical underpinnings of sustainability issues. Therefore, the CSCP as a think and do tank is naturally the right place for me to be. The international team, broad diversity of projects, and the collaborative approach are unique and offer an inspiring environment to come up with innovative ideas and turn them into real actions.

What do you bring along from your previous journeys?

With more than 25 years of experience in various positions, functions and projects from specialist to senior management, I have a deep understanding of the private corporate sector. I look forward to employing this experience in supporting companies to engage with sustainability topics, biodiversity being a core focus.

Among the many projects and work streams, what are you looking forward to the most?

The Coronavirus pandemic has taught many of us valuable lessons. The intrinsic link between the pandemic and biodiversity loss is an eye-opening example. Anthropogenic activities, such as mining or release of industrial waste are known to be drivers of diseases transmitted from animals to humans. On the other hand, the pandemic is taking its toll on biodiversity, potentially aggravating the initial drivers. Our CSCP holistic approach accounts for such feedback loops and looks at problems from a cross-topic and collaborative viewpoint. I believe in such work and its impact potential and this is what I look forward to the most.

What is your favourite sustainable lifestyle habit?

I really appreciate regional and sustainably produced honey, so I keep bees on my own which enables me to harvest honey and promote local biodiversity.

For further questions, please contact Frank Augustin directly.

How do we enhance the operational capacities of first responders during outbreaks of waterborne diseases and how can we boost cross-country collaborations? Given the differences and complexities of existing emergency management systems, connecting key actors across and within countries is essential. Not only to guarantee a deeper understanding of challenges, needs and opportunities but also to explore the uptake of novel technologies and processes collaboratively. Through running its Communities of Practice (CoP), the PathoCERT project has concluded the second round of multi-stakeholder targeted meetings in each of the six project pilot cities: Limassol (Cyprus), Thessaloniki (Greece), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Granada (Spain), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Seoul (South Korea).

Building upon the insights gathered from the first round of events, the CoP meetings revolved around expanding the knowledge-base with special attention to the PathoCERT tailor-made technologies, guidelines, and processes in connection to the cities´ emergency scenarios.

The CoP meetings gathered over 80 stakeholders, representing local civil defence departments, civil protection agencies, police and fire services, public health services, local and municipal authorities, water utilities, first responder bodies, and the Red Cross. Their outcomes resulted in a detailed overview of users´ requirement for the different PathoCERT technologies, including wearable sensors to detect water pathogens in real-time, drones to collect water samples in remote areas, and even the use of social media like Twitter to identify the occurrence of emergency events via citizens´ tweets.

In PathoCERT, the Communities of Practice act as an innovative bridge between local, regional and national stakeholders and technology developers, providing the necessary neutral stage for open discussions and conducting of co-creation processes. The results of this second round of CoP meetings paves the way for the further development and/or refinement of the project technologies as well as for the setting up of the pilot-testing activities.

For more information on the PathoCERT six Communities of Practice and the pilot case studies, please visit the PathoCERT project website!

The PathoCERT project aims to increase the ability of first responders to rapidly detect waterborne pathogens and ensure collaboration and coordination between the different actors during an emergency event. It brings together a consortium of 23 partners including universities, research organisations, NGOs, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large enterprises, first responders, and water utility operators from different European countries and South Korea to research and develop targeted technologies, tools, and procedures.

For further information, please contact Francesca Grossi.

Do you know which packaging belongs in which bin? What if packaging consists of different materials? Retailers and producers are increasingly using separation and sorting cues to help consumers dispose of waste correctly and ensure high-quality material recycling. In a new study conducted together with the Berlin-based Verbraucher Initiative, the CSCP tested consumer awareness regarding such information strategies.

The results of the study indicate that the cues are not yet effective for complex packaging made of composite materials or multiple components. In principle, however, assistance is desired and considered helpful. “Uniform and familiar symbols with clear, colour-coded separating and garbage can cues are necessary”, summarises Belinda Bäßler of the Verbraucher Initiative e.V. “Only this way consumers can internalise the assistance”.

In an innovative experimental field test, consumers were first led to believe that they were taking part in a taste test. They were casually asked to dispose of the packaging of tasted products and observed while doing this. They were then questioned again and informed about the true motives of the field test. The test was carried with a complex multi-component coffee cup and a cereal bar wrapped in foil. Besides visible placing and clear information, the tests revealed the relevance of optical and haptical information. While the online community already highlighted a colour demarcation as potentially effective, the practical test showed that haptic elements, such as a perforation are perceived much more strongly than purely visual/textual information.

Earlier studies by the Club for Sustainable Packaging Solution (Packaging Club) already suggested that the visual and haptic design of a package can be significantly more effective – especially for correct separation – than corresponding information. Also, the appearance of a package should already clearly communicate how it is to be separated later.

This also means that materials should feel authentic to be correctly assigned. Plastic packaging with a paper-like appearance can mislead consumers and should therefore be avoided. Paper packaging with a plastic coating, as is more frequently used in the food sector, needs unambiguous information about separating and sorting. Even in the case of well-established beverage cartons, some consumers seem to remain uncertain and feel tempted to discard them in the paper waste bin.

“While separating and sorting cues may help for more complex packaging, simple mono-material packaging remains the most effective strategy for closing resource loops. This is indicated by the fact that no sorting mistakes were made with simple packaging concepts such as a muesli bar foil”, explains Stephan Schaller of the Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP).

The Packaging Club is part of the initiative Consumer Insight Action Panel.

For additional details, please download the complete study in our library.

For further questions, please contact Stephan Schaller.