This is a sample text. You can click on it to edit it inline or open the element options to access additional options for this element.

Exploring the CitiObs "Citizen-Led Action Toolkit"

Our consortium partners, Jessica Carmen Guy and Óscar González from Fab Lab Barcelona at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia share insights on the process of the development of the Citizen-Led Action Toolkit.

CitiObs consortium partners at the Barcelona plenary workshop exploring the Citizen-Led Action concepts


CitiObs is a project with powerful missions, one of which is to consolidate and apply tools and practice-based knowledge for co-creating data, knowledge, and local action through Citizen Observatories. These Observatories aim to enhance our understanding of urban environmental issues and empower citizens and marginalized communities to take action.


Unlocking Citizen-Led Change: The CitiObs Citizen-Led Action Toolkit


The toolkit “Citizen-led Action Toolkit” developed by Fab Lab Barcelona at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia aims to provide these tools to support citizen communities within Citizen Observatories that are motivated to take action in the context of environmental protection. In order to do so, it provides a selection of co-creation tools to help devise, organise, and deliver a citizen-led action, or series of actions, that can make an impact and bring about positive change. Furthermore, it strives to establish connections with the principles of the New European Bauhaus by offering tools that align with its inclusive and enriching ethos.


With this goal in mind, the toolkit also provides valuable resources for cultivating relationships between Citizen Observatories and various local communities, particularly those of artists, creators, local (maker)spaces, and cultural groups situated in the areas where the Citizen Observatories are based. This is achieved by providing these communities with tools and facilitating connections through the Distributed Design Platform. This platform functions as a networking hub, with a well-established member base consisting of diverse European cultural and creative institutions, connecting individuals such as makers, designers, and creatives.


A work in progress


The development of the initial version of the Citizen-led Action Toolkit was a collaborative effort involving various partners within the CitiObs project. This collaborative journey began in January 2023 during the kickoff plenary meeting in Oslo, where consortium members were introduced to the toolkit's primary objectives and invited to provide their insights to align their diverse experiences and backgrounds with the goals set by the task leaders.


Given that this toolkit is designed to consolidate a bottom-up, yet diverse approach to co-creating citizen-led actions, a collective working session was organized, during which all project partners were encouraged to share their perspectives and experiences related to citizen-led actions. They were particularly asked to provide examples of actions they had either participated in or were aware of, with a specific focus on environmental protection. This initial collaboration helped set the ground for the development of the toolkit, which was iterated upon until July. This first version will be used by the CitiObs cases in Frontrunner Cities, providing valuable insights for continuous improvement throughout the project and later on it will become accessible in the CitiObs Knowledge Platform.




A value driven approach

The "Citizen-led Action Toolkit" aims to provide more than just a set of tools. It's a reflection of a set of values that underpin its mission. These values serve as the guiding light for those who utilize the toolkit.

Here, we present a series of values that the toolkit highlights as a foundation for a common vision shared between the toolkit's content and the values of the New European Bauhaus and the Distributed Design Platform. While the toolkit outlines these fundamental principles in a broad context, it recognizes that these values may require additional elaboration and adaptation based on the distinct experiences and features of each Citizen Observatory (CO) initiative. We promote a process that allows for the fine-tuning of these principles to suit the specific local contexts, taking into account the unique needs and aspirations of local communities.


Openness refers to the mentality and approach to share and make processes transparent, replicable, and accessible. It enables the iterative and replicable nature of actions. This openness extends to various strategic priorities, including open design, open science, open technology and data, and being open to the world, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange.


Encouraging a dialogue across cultures, disciplines, genders, and ages is essential for fostering inclusivity, diversity, and a comprehensive understanding of complex issues. By promoting cross-cultural exchange, interdisciplinary collaboration, and inclusivity in all aspects, we create an environment where diverse perspectives and experiences can enrich discussions, inspire innovative solutions, and facilitate collective learning.

Empowerment and changemaking
Empowerment involves taking control and the increased responsibility for yourself and your environment. Fostered through collaborative approaches and openness, empowerment ultimately aims to improve quality of life through changemaking. Our focus on these values goes beyond technological solutions, seeking transformation in individuals, communities, institutions, and cultures by shifting thinking, attitudes, values, and consciousness. We embrace community-led change as a powerful force for creating meaningful impact.
Co-creation and participatory practices
Co-creation is a collaborative approach that involves individuals working together on equal footing to develop projects using various methods and tools. It emphasises the use of diverse resources and ideas to create new actions. This process fosters meaningful participation and agency among citizens, enabling them to actively contribute to the design process while promoting inclusive and diverse solutions.
Being inspired by art and culture, and going beyond mere functionality, allows for the exploration of creative and imaginative solutions that respond to deeper human needs and aspirations. By integrating artistic and cultural elements into design and innovation processes, we can tap into the emotional and aesthetic dimensions that resonate with individuals and communities, creating meaningful and transformative experiences.
Regenerative making and design principles aspire to renew and restore the systems that we are part of, rather than just replacing or devaluing them. This involves creating reciprocal relationships and embedding a regenerative design culture from the beginning, with a focus on net positive benefits for both the environment and society.


Your Contribution Matters

Do you have examples of citizen-led actions from your local community? We want to hear from you! Get in contact with us to have your work featured in the citizen-led actions toolkit of CitiObs. Your contributions can make a real difference in the quest for environmental protection and sustainable change.

The "Citizen-led Action Toolkit" is a resource for empowering citizens and fostering real change. Let's make a positive impact on our environment, one citizen-led action at a time.   


30 October 2023


Jessica Carmen Guy, Óscar González


Fab Lab Barcelona | IAAC