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Big Data and Environmental Protection: An Initial Survey of Public and Private Initiatives

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Big data sets and analytics increasingly are being used by government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private firms to forward environmental protection. Improving energy efficiency, promoting environmental justice, tracking climate change, and monitoring water quality are just a few of the objectives being furthered by the use of big data. This paper provides examples of the many ways big data sets and analytics are being used to achieve environmental and sustainability goals. These examples are not intended to provide a comprehensive list of all efforts underway, but rather to illustrate the range of initiatives and approaches being used by government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private firms.

This white paper builds off of ELI's October 22, 2013 event, Big Data: A Game Changer for Environmental Managers, Advocates and Regulators? This white paper is the first of three publications by the authors on the subject of Big Data. Lookout for Big Data and the Environment: A Survey of Initiatives and Observations Moving Forward in a forthcoming issue of the Environmental Law Reporter, and Big Data — Enabling Big Protection for the Environment, in the forthcoming book Big Data, Big Challenges in Evidence-Based Policy Making (West Publishing), and check back here for updates!


Environmental Law Reporter Special Issue on Private Environmental Governance, February 2014

A Summit on Private Environmental Governance: Facing the Challenges of Voluntary Standards, Supply Chains, and Green Marketing, Deborah P. Majoras

The Emergence of Private Environmental Governance, Michael P. Vandenbergh

Private Governance of Green Claims in the Marketplace: The Role of NAD and Advertising Self-RegulationDavid G. Mallen

Marine Stewardship Council: A Case Study in Private Environmental Standard-Setting, Will Martin

Interviews With Private Governance Experts, Linda Breggin


Why Benefit Corps May Matter

Linda Breggin, The Environmental Forum (July/August 2013)