Over the past half century, the global environment has become subject to an accelerated pace of mediation and datafication. This ongoing transition has become so comprehensive that the knowledge, management and governance of the earth system is dependent on enormous flows of data from a ‘vast machine’ of measuring tools. These processes combined have formed a ‘mediated planet’, subject to interpretation and shared human decision-making – that should ideally be democratic and guided by the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The aim of this project is to critically research the opportunities and risks in the rapid datafication of the environment in relation to the SDGs for climate change (13), the ocean (14), ecosystems and biodiversity (15) and effective and inclusive institutions (16). We will analyze the role of SDGs in generating and aggregating environmental data, identify the effects of datafication and present a framework of trust and participation for future SDG governance. The desired outcome is new knowledge of how the SDGs and their supporting networks influence data-generation on a mediated planet, and how issues of access to and use of environmental data, as well as data ownership and AI implementation, can best be navigated. We contend that this knowledge can help enhance the democratic potential of the SDGs to build public trust and secure broad participation in ways that support peaceful and inclusive societies, as promised by SDG 16.

Funding Agencey: Formas