Summary

The World Economic Forum released a toolkit for regulators to help respond in a more agile ways to support Forth Industrial Revolution.

“From autonomous vehicles to biotechnologies, technological breakthroughs across the digital, biological and physical spheres are heralding a Fourth Industrial Revolution. Governed well, these innovations can help power economic growth and address the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges.

But regulation can struggle to keep pace with innovation, hindering the introduction of new ideas, products and business models, while leaving citizens with outdated protections. A more agile, flexible approach to regulation is needed in order to seize the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to change lives for the better.

This guide provides regulators with a range of techniques they can employ to help respond in a more agile way to innovation and disruption. It demystifies what regulatory sandboxes, challenges and one-stop shops really are and explores the trade-offs between different regulatory strategies. It includes case studies from leading regulators on how to apply these techniques in practice and ideas on how to mainstream these approaches across the whole of government.”

Key Points

  • The toolkit outlines the impacts of the Fourth-Industrial Revolution, including the need for regulation governance to embrace agile approaches in order for countries to unlock the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • The guide provides the foundations of good regulatory practice, including:
    • Openness
    • Proportionality
    • Fairness
  • The guide further explores key elements of agile regulatory governance, including:
    • Anticipatory regulation – It argues that regulators need to become more adept to identify innovations which represent both opportunities and risks.
    • Outcome-focused regulation – The importance on having a focus on end outcomes and measurements success. It further describes the prescriptive “command-and-control” approach to regulation has become obsolete as new ideas, products and services emerge. Further, at worst, it can divert business into “tick-box” compliance culture without achieving outcomes for citizens and the environment.
    • Experimental regulation – Explores the powerful impact that regulation has on the ability for businesses ability to innovate. Seeks for regulators to partner with business to explore ideas and adopt processes of learning and adaptation (or “experimental regulation”)
    • Data-driven regulation – Describes how regulation can be enforced and finetuned with real-time feedback through data driven approaches.
    • Self- and co-regulation – In response to the pace and complexity of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, explore regulation that can be shared with the private sector, such as industry led governance mechanisms (e.g. voluntary standards, codes of conduct and industry covenants)
    • Joined-up regulation Discusses the importance of joined up regulation and public services, including from a user prospective.
    • International regulatory cooperation – In context to the Fourth Industrial Revolution reshaping economies, seek opportunities from other regulators across boarders. For example, share knowledge, pool resources and take joint action to achieve regulatory goals.

“For now, many governments are focused on the need to bolster agility. In the last year, the governments of Finland,69 Japan and the United Kingdom, among others, have developed strategies to introduce a more agile, innovation enabling approach to regulation across government. Implicit in these strategies is the need to adapt the culture of regulators as well as their mechanisms, with initiatives such as Canada’s Centre for Regulatory Innovation and the United Kingdom’s Regulators’ Pioneer Fund designed to foster change.”

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