Towards Environmental Data Governance

Paola Pierri , Anthony Zacharzewski

The use of data will be crucial in the fight against climate change. But while 'environmental data' is growing exponentially in scope and scale, there is no governance system to ensure environmental data is collected, shared and used for the public good. This talk will present design principles and a roadmap for environmental data governance.
Hoppetosse: Sonnendeck
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The use of data will be crucial in the fight against climate change. Data are essential to understand the scale of the challenge, aiding the ability to measure and forecast the effects of global warming, enabling us to become more resilient and prepared.

The good use of environmental data has enormous social benefits, but each of them brings governance challenges - privacy, secrecy, business monopolies, anti-fraud and transparency among them. Today, a significant proportion of the world’s environmental data is held by a small number of big organizations including firms and businesses. This creates asymmetries in data availability and consequently in our ability to harness the potential of data to mitigate the effects of climate change and other threats. There is an urgent need to unlock privately held datasets.

To achieve the benefits that environmental data can provide,  we need data use to be supported by a solid governance regime that can steer collection, access, and use of environmental data.  Environmental data is an expansive and loosely defined field, and while no one-size-fits-all approach will suffice, an effective environmental data governance framework will provide a foundation for decision-makers to adopt, customize and refine for their particular contexts.

This talk will present the findings from a research project from Democratic Society and The GovLab that mapped the tensions in this field and identifies principles for a stronger participatory framework for environmental data governance.


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Director of Research and Design at Democratic Society