Digital Technology and the Environment
In September 2020, we convened a roundtable of experts and stakeholders to discuss the potential of data and digital technologies to advance environmental sustainability. More than 25 participants representing government, the private sector, academia and not-for-profit organizations from around the world attended the event. They explored the opportunities and challenges associated with using data to further environmental objectives. The discussions and outcomes of the roundtable provided input for this paper.
Environmental management and policy hold the potential to be an important data frontier. But the application of data and digital technologies to environmental sustainability remains limited and poorly understood among many environmental professionals and their stakeholders—including citizens.
The environmental domain poses a number of unique challenges for successfully harnessing data and digital technologies. These challenges are largely problems of policy frameworks, governance, business models, and the mobilization of capital, information and leadership, rather than technology limitations.
Data enables transparency and authenticity. By marrying digital technologies with abundant environmental data, transformative change to advance sustainability is attainable. But to succeed, it will be necessary to establish the right data governance, which, in turn, can enable open innovation.