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Scrutinizing environmental governance in a digital age: New ways of seeing, participating, and intervening

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Journal Article

Kloppenburg, Sanneke, Aarti Gupta, Sake R. L. Kruk, Stavros Makris, Robert Bergsvik, Paulan Korenhof, Helena Solman, and Hilde M. Toonen. 2022. “Scrutinizing Environmental Governance in a Digital Age: New Ways of Seeing, Participating, and Intervening.” One Earth 5 (3): 232–41.

Digital technologies play an increasingly important role in addressing environmental challenges, such as climate change and resource depletion. Yet, the characteristics and implications of digitalized environmental governance are still under-conceptualized. In this perspective, we distinguish three dimensions of governance: (1) seeing and knowing, (2) participation and engagement, and (3) interventions and actions. For each dimension, we provide a critical perspective on the shifts that digital technologies generate in governance. We argue against the assumption that the use of digital technologies automatically results in improved outcomes or in more democratic decision-making. Instead, attention needs to be paid to the wider political and normative context in which digital technologies are proposed, designed, and used as environmental governance tools. We conclude with key questions for academics and policymakers to broaden the debate on responsible design and use of digital technologies in environmental governance.

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