Citizen Science for Water Governance

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YEREVAN, Armenia The American University of Armenia (AUA) Acopian Center for the Environment has secured European Union (EU) Horizon Europe-funding to form a consortium of 12 partners from 10 countries to collaborate on OTTERS, a 2.5-year project set to start on January 1, 2023 focused on scaling up citizen science in marine and freshwater governance. 

Citizen science, the practice of public participation and open collaboration in scientific research, is an increasingly important tool for fostering citizen engagement and stewardship of the natural environment as well as contributing to scientific knowledge.

The one-million-Euro OTTERS project, with the full name of Societal Transformation for Marine and Freshwater Stewardship through Scaling Up Citizen Science, will be coordinated by the AUA Acopian Center. The consortium partners are from Armenia, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine. 

OTTERS will support the coordination of EU citizen science initiatives focused on water, aiming to accelerate the creation and adoption of technical, legal, and ethical standards for citizen science protocols and methods; examine the effectiveness of citizen science in societal transformation towards sustainable aquatic ecosystem stewardship; and pilot cross-community, watershed-based Spring-to-Sea Stewardship Campaigns. 

“This project offers the chance to expand our work of connecting AUA and Armenia to the global research and transformation agenda on environmental governance,” says Alen Amirkhanian, director of the AUA Acopian Center for the Environment. “At the local level, we will focus on the Lake Sevan basin, designing campaigns to engage communities in the basin, including schoolchildren, youth, municipalities, and businesses.”

Amirkhanian emphasizes that for children and youth, citizen science initiatives are an important extension of STEM education, making science relevant to understanding and managing the immediate surroundings of communities. “Importantly,” he adds, “we will be connected with other similar initiatives in Europe where we will work and learn in collaboration with our international partners.”

Other potential pilot Spring-to-Sea Stewardship Campaigns will be considered for Italy (Tiber into Tyrrhenian Sea or Piave into Adriatic Sea); Greece and Bulgaria (Mestra/Nestos into Aegean Sea); Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine (Prut to Danube to Black Sea); Portugal (cities and streams to the Atlantic Ocean); and Israel (cities to the Mediterranean Sea). 

For more information on OTTERS, please visit

The AUA Acopian Center for the Environment, a research center of the American University of Armenia (AUA), promotes the protection and restoration of the natural environment through research, education, and community outreach. The AUA Acopian Center’s focus areas include sustainable natural resource management, biodiversity protection and conservation, greening the built environment, sustainable energy, as well as information technology and the environment. Visit