The role of data in transformations to sustainability: a critical research agenda

de Albuquerque, João Porto; Anderson, Liana; Calvillo, Nerea; Coaffee, Jon; Cunha, Maria Alexandra; Degrossi, Livia Castro; Neto, Giovanni Dolif; Horita, Flavio; Klonner, Carolin; Lima-Silva, Fernanda; Marchezini, Victor; da Mata Martins, Mario Henrique; Pajarito-Grajales, Diego; Pitidis, Vangelis; Rudorff, Conrado; Tkacz, Nathaniel; Traijber, Rachel and Zipf, Alexander. 2021. The role of data in transformations to sustainability: a critical research agenda. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 49, pp. 153-163. ISSN 1877-3435 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article investigates the role of digital technologies and data innovations, such as big data and citizen-generated data, to enable transformations to sustainability. We reviewed recent literature in this area and identified that the most prevailing assumption of work is related to the capacity of data to inform decision-making and support transformations. However, there is a lack of critical investigation on the concrete pathways for this to happen. We present a framework that identifies scales and potential pathways on how data generation, circulation and usage can enable transformations to sustainability. This framework expands the perspective on the role and functions of data, and it is used to outline a critical research agenda for future work that fully considers the socio-cultural contexts and practices through which data may effectively support transformative pathways to sustainable development.

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All data is provided in full in the results section of this paper.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


18 June 2021Accepted
24 July 2021Published Online

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Date Deposited:

26 Sep 2023 15:14

Last Modified:

26 Sep 2023 15:18

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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