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innovation 2 2468 social innovations that we could see in next decade

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) recently released an issue brief outlining the business model shifts, emerging technologies and social innovations that could shape the next decade (2020-2030).

The eight possible social innovations – ways of interacting that could alter social systems and overcome one or several challenges faced by society, are summarised as follows:

Citizen science - research activities conducted by members of the general public, often while collaborating with or being under the direction of professional scientists.

CrowdLaw - a restructuring of the processes governing how parliaments, governments and public institutions work, to promote citizen engagement by using new technologies to tap into different sources of information, judgments and experience at each stage of the legislative and policy-making cycle, thereby improving the quality and legitimacy of the resulting laws and policies.

Digital deliberative democracy - using digital technologies to improve the deliberative process of democratic institutions. Deliberative democracy focuses on citizens discussing views and opinions on what the state should and should not do. The emphasis is on input, opinion formation, self-expression and discussion.

Open Education - the educational policy goal of making education freely available. In the narrow sense, it is often reduced to the transfer of knowledge via the Internet, which is based on learning materials that are free of charge for the user and available from accessible learning platforms.

Open Government Data (OGD) - public administration data, which are processed and made freely accessible. By making data sets available, public institutions become more transparent and accountable to citizens. By encouraging the use, re-use and free distribution of data sets, governments encourage the creation of businesses and innovative, citizen-centred services.

Self-sustaining neighbourhoods. With rising network dependencies and urbanization, geographically defined communities strive increasingly to achieve some level of economic independence or self-sufficiency, in respect to the larger system they find themselves in. This can be tackled for example by using community-owned urban gardening installations, local power grids and neighbourhood apps, for communication and coordination.

Open source software - software where the source code can be viewed, changed and used publicly and by third parties, usually free of charge. Already in existence but more software can be turned into open source software by individuals for altruistic motives as well as by organizations or companies looking to share development costs or gain market share.

Participatory Budgeting. The administration of a city, a municipality or another administrative unit strives for more budgetary transparency by allowing citizens to participate in the decision-making process for at least part of the budget available for spending. The citizens agree on the use of the available funds independently in a deliberative process (the administration takes part but mainly in a moderating and advisory capacity).

We should ask whether the ways we think innovations will affect the world we live in are societally positive. Will they make the world a better place to live, not just for a privileged few, but for all of us? We should ask if the innovations that will shape the next 10 years are likely to drive us towards a more sustainable world. And if the answers to these questions are no, then we will know we need to increase our efforts to uncover new innovations that do support a more sustainable world; to direct finance and investment towards these innovations; to explore more creatively the applications of technologies that already exist.

Download the brief with all the details from here.

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Geoff Knott, 13/10/2020

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