Support governance breakthroughs
Presently, many national laws, regulations and associated governance frameworks that implement global SDG and MEA commitments are not yet being designed to directly benefit from digital technologies, platforms, applications and SMART systems. Many national legal frameworks are still using traditional approaches for regulating the physical world while neglecting opportunities to harness digital tools to achieve sustainability outcomes and regulatory compliance.
As “whole of government” approaches to digitalization and e-governance are taken forward, a range of innovations are needed to catalyse a series of sustainability governance and rule of law breakthroughs. First, improving the ability of governance systems and regulations to dynamically adapt to changing sustainability risks and opportunities using real-time information feedback loops and AI in an agile and iterative manner.
Second, increased automation of Systems of National Accounts (SNAs) used to measure national economic activity with sustainability criteria included. Third, transparent monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of legal compliance and progress towards national climate and sustainability goals as part of new accountability frameworks. Fourth, decentralized and distributed governance solutions to trigger and incentivize collective sustainability actions, finance and behaviours at scale through digital channels.
Finally, new digital mechanisms to support public participation in decision-making as well as crowdsourcing governance priorities and solutions from citizens and citizen science. None of this can be effectively done, however, without critically assessing how automated processes are designed, where data is sourced, what power dynamics are driving the governance systems we are seeking to optimize, and who is establishing environmental governance and sustainability goals. All of these governance innovations must prioritize the inclusion, ownership and agency of currently underrepresented groups, support subsidiarity and self-governance in an increasingly polycentric setting, and thoroughly account for integrated biases. They must also help overcome the global-local divide by building inclusive fora connecting local interests with global decision-making.