Incentives and barriers for participation in community-based environmental monitoring and information systems: A critical analysis and integration of the literature

Uta Wehn and Abeer Almomani
IHE Delft Institute for Water Education

Community-based monitoring, Citizen Science, Citizen observatory, Motivation, Belief, Attitude, Participation, Decision making, Theory of Planned Behavior, Policy maker, Scientist.


The reliance of environmental management on comprehensive, high quality, timely and (ideally) affordable data and information has given rise to the need for ‘shared environmental information systems’ (SEIS). Community-based monitoring and information systems or ‘citizen observatories’ are form of SEIS whereby citizens are
involved in new roles such as data collection for environmental monitoring, data and knowledge sharing for joint decision- making, and cooperative planning. Despite the technological advances and the notional potential, many efforts to implement community-based monitoring systems (CBM) are facing difficulties with engaging the core stakeholder. The success of CBMs relies on the active participation and commitment of all involved stakeholders: citizen, decision and policy makers, and (private) data aggregators and scientists. This requires in-depth understanding of their motivations, incentives and barriers for participating.

This paper draws on the Theory of Planned Behaviour as an organising theoretical framework and reviews the (dispersed) empirical insights from the literature in order to generate an integrated overview of the incentives and barriers of the aforementioned stakeholders to participate in CBMs. The insights from the literature allow us to take stock of the state of research into motivations for CBM participation, to identify complementary and conflicting incentives for the respective actors, and to indicate gaps to be addressed in future research.

This article was written by Uta Wehn and Abeer Almomani, and published in Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 101, November 2019. It is published as Open Access, and the full article can be downloaded by following this link.

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