The United Nations Science Policy Business Forum working group on Big Data, Analytics and Artificial Intelligence published a discussion paper on ‘The Case for a Digital Ecosystem for the Environment: Bringing together data, algorithms and insights for sustainable development’ in during the 4th meeting of the UN Environmental Assembly. The paper notes that the global digital ecosystem for the environment is quintessential to achieve sustainable development seeing the importance of frontier technologies and integrated data for environmental sustainability. Yet, this requires collaboration between citizens, governments, business as well as intergovernmental organisations to collect and share data, process data, and create analytical insights and information. While citizens can collect and use data, governments should create a culture of data use and data governance for the national data ecosystems. Additionally, the private sector should share data, algorithms, and expertise. A global digital ecosystem that hinges on innovative partnership among different stakeholders could be buttressed by the UN. This could, in turn, put forward environment-related data and enhance policy intervention. The paper further tackles the components of a digital ecosystem for the environment, the potential benefits, risks, and governance challenges as well as the entry points and opportunities for engagement.
The need for people to gain access to ICT resources and narrow the digital divide is crucial, and is especially relevant now in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also important to understand how access to the Internet affects the level of economic and social development in a country.