Skip to main content

Earth Challenge 2020, a Citizen Science Initiative

WASHINGTON DC – April 20, 2018 – In anticipation of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, Earth Day Network, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the U.S. Department of State, through the Eco-Capitals Forum, announce Earth Challenge 2020, a Citizen Science Initiative. This initiative is in collaboration with Connect4Climate -- World Bank Group, Conservation X Labs, Hult Prize, National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), Reset, SciStarter, UN Environment and others to be announced.

Earth Challenge 2020 will help fulfill our goal of engaging millions of global citizens in collecting one billion data points in areas including air and water quality, pollution and human health. Citizen science volunteers around the world, working with professional scientists, will collect and share earth science data of their local communities on an unprecedented scale, providing new insight on the state of our environment.

Our initiative aims to contribute to and inform research and to educate members of the public by raising environmental and scientific literacy. By leveraging citizen science, we will drive meaningful action, empowering people to work with decision makers, including the private sector and policymakers at all levels, to make better choices.

In 2019 hackathons will be hosted around the world to help create technologies and data platforms that will underpin Earth Challenge 2020. These events will connect Earth Challenge 2020 with existing and emerging citizen science projects, highlighting successes and crowdsourcing solutions to challenges. These global hackathons will develop new hardware and software for gathering and sharing data, including an official Earth Challenge 2020 mobile app. The initial data collection campaign will launch on April 1, 2020, with the objective of collecting one billion data points by Earth Day.

Earth Challenge 2020 will result in a platform of open source data that will live, grow and connect with other global efforts, including those of governments, multilateral and scientific institutions and non-governmental organizations. Our initiative will include a broad and cross-cutting social media effort, encouraging participants to share stories, videos, photos, and other media to build a global movement and community.

The modern environmental movement was born on the first Earth Day in 1970, when 20 million people joined together changing the way we understand and manage the environment. Today, with the inclusion of new communications technology, people have the capacity to measure and make decisions about their own environment. With the support of valued partners and global citizens, Earth Challenge 2020 has the potential to be the largest coordinated citizen science project ever attempted on Earth.


Earth Day NetworkContact: Denice ZeckPhone: (202) 355-8875communications@earthday.orgThe Wilson CenterContact: Ryan McKenna
Phone: (202) 691-4217
ryan.mckenna@wilsoncenter.orgU.S. Department of StateContact: State GDI TeamEC2020@state.govEARTH DAY NETWORKearthday.orgThe first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN), the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, works year round with tens of thousands of partners in 192 countries on global reforestation, climate and environmental literacy, ending plastic pollution and protecting biodiversity. EDN’s goal is to build environmental democracy and to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement worldwide. THE WILSON CENTERwilsoncenter.orgThe Wilson Center is the nation’s key non-partisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research and open dialogue to inform actionable ideas for the policy community. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world. The Wilson Center currently incubates the Citizen Science Global Partnership (CSGP), an emerging network-of-networks launched at the UN Science-Policy Business Forum on the Environment, that seeks to promote citizen science for a sustainable world.U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND ECO-CAPITALS U.S. Department of State leads America’s foreign policy through diplomacy, advocacy, and assistance by advancing the interests of the American people, their safety and economic prosperity.  The Eco-Capitals Forum (ECF) is a global initiative to make diplomacy a vital driver of sustainable cities. ECF serves as a consortium for the diplomatic community to share best practices and challenges, leverage economies of scale to implement renewable energy and waste management solutions, and support and laud e­fforts by individual embassies to reduce their environmental footprints and costs. As a partnership between the diplomatic community, city government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local businesses, world-wide chapters of the ECF provides a unique platform for communities to come together for sustainability.

To sign up for updates or to get involved email or for a complete list of partners go to EC2020's website.


ABOUT CONNECT4CLIMATE –WORLD BANK GROUPconnect4climate.orgConnect4Climate is a global communications program launched by the World Bank Group and the Italian Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea, together with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, that takes on climate change by supporting ambitious leadership, promoting transformative solutions and encouraging collective action. The Connect4Climate community brings together about 500 partners around the world including civil society groups, media networks, international organizations, academic institutions, youth groups, and the private sector. CONSERVATION X LABSconservationxlabs.comConservation X Labs (CXL) believes that the power to solve environmental challenges lies in people everywhere.  CXL is a 501c3 and Benefit Corporation that sources, develops, and scales exponential technologies for conservation through open innovation and a for-profit entrepreneurship financial model. We aim to dramatically improve the efficacy, cost, speed, sustainability and scale of conservation efforts through various programs that engage and incentivize a greater diversity and disciplines of solvers., Make for the Planet hackathons, mass-collaboration of problem solving and technology prizes in our Digital Makerspace. HULT PRIZEhultprize.orgThe Hult Prize Foundation is the world's largest engine for the creation and launch of market- based, SDG-aligned, sustainable, and impact-centered startups emerging from university, offering a grand prize of USD1 million. The year long, September to September program focuses on immersion based learning and converting typical job-seeking students into game-changing entrepreneurs world-wide. 
 NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR SCIENCE AND THE ENVIRONMENTncseglobal.orgNCSE advances the use of science to inform environmental policy and decision-making.  NCSE programs include interdisciplinary research, scientific assessment, information dissemination, training and curriculum development.  NCSE engages scientists, educators, policymakers, business leaders and officials at all levels of government.  NCSE is a non-profit organization established in 1990 and has a longstanding reputation for non-partisanship.  OPEN GEOSPATIAL CONSORTIUMopengeospatial.orgOGC is a non-profit international industry consortium of over 520 companies, government agencies, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly-available standards that enable the creation, discovery, and use of geospatial information. The vision of OGC is a world in which everyone benefits from the use of geospatial information and supporting technologies. OGC members are in the process of developing a common data model and standard, SWE For Citizen Science (Swe4cs), that will suitable for collecting and sharing citizen science data in a range of domains, and integrating citizen science data with information from professional research activities low cost sensors, research grade instruments, and Earth observations. RESETreset.buildRESET is an international building standard and certification program for healthy buildings, as measured by sensors. Focused on quality, transparency and actionability of data, RESET sets global standards for air quality hardware (sensors), reporting software, as well as installation and maintenance. RESET is developed and administered by GIGA, an international organization that combines the development of building standards with cloud technology to increase the accessibility and impact of healthy buildings globally. SCISTARTERscistarter.comSciStarter is the place to find, join, and contribute to science through providing people access to more than 2700 searchable formal and informal research projects and events.  But more than just a project directory, SciStarter also offers a coordinated place to record contributions and access the tools and instruments needed to participate in citizen science projects like Earth Challenge 2020. Over 100,000 global citizen scientists are part of the SciStarter community.  UN ENVIRONMENTunenvironment.orgThe United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

Related Program

Science and Technology Innovation Program

The Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP) serves as the bridge between technologists, policymakers, industry, and global stakeholders.  Read more