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ICT and Environmental Regulation in the Developing World: Inequalities in Institutional Information Infrastructures

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SCRIPT Centre Workshop on 'ICT in a changing climate: ICT for environmental regulation as a global justice and development issue', University of Edinburgh, June 2015

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ICT and Environmental Regulation in the Developing World: Inequalities in Institutional Information Infrastructures

  1. 1. ICT and Environmental Regulation in the Developing World: Inequalities in Institutional Information Infrastructures Rónán Kennedy School of Law, NUI Galway ronan.m.kennedy@nuigalway.ie Image: European Space Agency
  2. 2. Overview • Background: ICT and environmental regulation • ICT in Regulation: Rule of Law issues • IS as a means of dependency and values transfer • Conclusions and recommendations
  3. 3. Millennium Development Goal Target 8F • In co-operation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications
  4. 4. WSIS Action Plan Target C7.20.a • Governments, in cooperation with other stakeholders are encouraged to use and promote ICTs as an instrument for environmental protection and the sustainable use of natural resources.
  5. 5. Benefits of ICT for ER New modes of regulation Improved resource efficiency Increased effectiveness Potential significant contribution to SD
  6. 6. ICT in Developing World • Use and availability varies significantly • Technology proportionately quite expensive • Greater use of centralised/shared services • Greater use of mobile and wireless • Adaptation a greater priority than mitigation
  7. 7. Applications of ICT Environmental observation Remote sensing and satellite imaging Waste management Land-use change
  8. 8. Applications of ICT Analysis and modelling Environmental planning (especially agriculture) Environmental management and protection Mitigating effects of ICT utilisation (e-waste) Environmental capacity building
  9. 9. Practical Challenges • Capacity, skills, political will? • Power and control lies with developers • Little evidence that ICT is a better investment than e.g. education or health • Developed world system lack m tis (localē knowledge, meanings, and understandings)
  10. 10. Power and Control • Whose needs are prioritised? • What assumptions does ICT carry with it? • Can DCs engage fully with technology creation and standard-setting? • Can ICT create further dependencies? • Can e-government/e-governance help the poor?
  11. 11. Law and ICT: Unpacking the Relationships • What are the consequences of the widespread use of ICT by regulators? • The computer as an invisible and unstudied tool • ICT as ‘frozen institutional discourse’ • Example: Tamil Nadu land registry
  12. 12. E-Regulation Cannot simply re-use private sector experiences New research topic: “The use of ICT within regulators and those who deal with them, such as NGOs, as an integral part of the process of measurement, assessment and feedback which is central to regulation.”
  13. 13. Benefits of E- Regulation Benefits: cheaper, more, quicker, better, new Improvements: Better informed More targeted More iterative More transparent and democratic
  14. 14. Difficulties with E-Regulation ICT not neutral or deterministic Impact on existing imbalances? Disempowering external actors Brake on change: Institutional Organisational Procedural
  15. 15. ICT and Legal Processes Legal processes neither simple nor linear Not easily modelled by logic or expert systems Risk of destructive feedback cycle ICT as embedded and entrenched infrastructure
  16. 16. Rule of Law  ‘all persons and authorities within the state, whether public or private, should be bound by and entitled to the benefit of laws publicly and prospectively promulgated and publicly administered in the courts’ (Lord Bingham)  Essential elements (Venice Commission):  Legality  Legal certainty  Prohibition of arbitrariness  Access to justice before independent and impartial courts  Respect for human rights  Non-discrimination and equality before the law
  17. 17. ICT and the Rule of Law  Preserving regulatory discretion while ensuring fairness  ‘Ambient Law’  Dangers of digital decision-making  Closed, inflexible, unaccountable systems  Containing assumptions, biases, mistakes
  18. 18. Querying the Myths of E-Government  Formalising practices and knowledge is difficult  ICT can be a brake on reform  People can resist ICT-driven change  Need to ‘Get It Right First Time’
  19. 19. “Get It Right First Time” Awareness of ICT and power relationships Design principles: Flexibility Rule of law Human rights Open, re-usable data
  20. 20. Configuring the Networked State  Open source code  Increasing digital literacy  ‘Governance on the Inside’

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