Digital Solutions for Sustainability


We facilitate research and policy recommendations on regulative frameworks for an inclusive platform economy and help pilot digital sustainability innovations in emerging markets.

EMSD acts as a knowledge hub on digital and platform economy solutions for sustainable development in developing countries and emerging markets. We support policy makers, think tanks, business and civil society actors in mastering the profound challenges provoked by the digital transformation. EMSD facilitates multi-stakeholder dialogues and provides technical assistance on regulatory frameworks that make the most of new economic configurations whilst mitigating interrelated social, environmental and data security risks. What is more, we support the development of innovations that unlock the potential of game-changer technologies like block chain to foster green finance solutions.


To harbor the potential of digital solutions for sustainable development

The digital economy is transforming global production and consumption patterns and is profoundly reshaping the way we interact both in the private and public spheres. Digital platforms, in particular, harbour vast potential to foster growth, technology spill-overs and innovation. In many developing countries, they create entrepreneurial opportunities, allow workers to participate in more formalised and fair work relations, and propel formerly marginalized groups into a global economic and financial system. On the other hand, platforms may sidestep responsibilities that are typically the domain of employers, such as non-discrimination or the provision of social security benefits. Beyond labour considerations, platforms may also pose challenges for economic competition and political stability: Network effects tend to facilitate the creation of monopolies with prohibitively high entry barriers. Besides, the digitalization of transactions raises data sovereignty and protection issues. In light of these complex challenges, it is imperative that policy makers recognize the role of regulative frameworks that harness the immense inclusive and growth potential of the digital economy whilst shielding against economic and social risks.


Providing decision makers with policy and regulatory advice for an inclusive digital economy

EMSD follows a comprehensive approach to promoting inclusive digital economies. We empower our partners to conduct cutting-edge research, including on the reach of digital platforms in emerging markets and their impact on labor conditions. Based on this, we are collaboratively building a knowledge hub that compiles best practices on regulative frameworks and standards for inclusive and sustainable platform economies. Through international multi-stakeholder dialogues, we promote the diffusion of these best practices across regions. To translate these insights into concrete action, we advise policy makers on designing progressive regulative frameworks for an inclusive platform economy and support the development and piloting of innovations that drive sustainable digital solutions (e.g. Green Asset Wallet).

Learn more about EMSD's work on Digital Solutions for Sustainability


Survey Publication: Governance of the platform economy in developing countries and emerging economies - Focus: African Perspectives

Presenting challenges in the governance of the platform economy in developing countries and emerging economies

This publication provides an introduction to the effects of digital transformation and the platform economy. Based on a global survey of development and international cooperation professionals, the study records expected impacts in 10 policy dimensions and presents challenges for policy and administration. The policy dimensions range from data governance, labour markets, digital business models, competition or taxing regulations to equal access, gender equality, or environmental aspects. Through facts & figures, examples, and brief overviews for each dimension, the publication sets a regional spotlight on Africa.


Publication: Sustainability in the Age of Platforms

Publication: Sustainability in the Age of Platforms

Platforms raise profound questions about sustainability. Insufficient research exists on their economic, social and environmental impacts, and on ways to improve their sustainability. The platform economy is regarded as both a driver of sustainable production and consumption – and a driver of unsustainable production and consumption. This study aims to fill this gap.


Policy options for regulating platform work

Report: Policy options for regulating platform work

Platform work in the Global South implies several benefits for workers such as more flexibility and more performance-oriented, uncapped pay. At the same time, several adverse working conditions such as a de facto lack of social protection or the inability to collectively organize must be accounted for. To maximize the benefits and minimize the risks, labour regimes are challenged to adapt. The following report raises our understanding on how current labour regimes apply to platform workers and how policymakers should respond to changing labour markets.


T20 Policy Brief: How to Promote Worker Wellbeing in the Platform Economy in the Global South

T20 Policy Brief: How to Promote Worker Wellbeing in the Platform Economy in the Global South

A large section of the workforce in emerging economies is engaged in informal work within the unorganized sector, often in precarious conditions and without social protection mechanisms. Making the transition from informal to formal work remains a key development objective even in light of looming adoption of new digital technologies. As workers in the unorganized sector shift to the platform economy, their labor will become formalized to the extent of legal and financial registration.