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Internet of Things, cybersecurity and governing wicked problems: learning from climate change governance

The implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) is central to what the World Economic Forum has coined the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’; a technological revolution built upon cyber-physical systems that will blur the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres. Novel interconnections will emerge as a result, challenging traditional relations and modes of governance. However, a central feature of the IoT is that the implications of cyber (in)security are no longer abstract. The IoT also returns us to the world of kinetic effects in international relations; more familiar territory for IR. The resulting cooperation and coordination challenges are transboundary in nature, occur at multiple levels across sectors, between institutions, and will impact all actors, both public and private, in complex, often highly politicised ways. In this article we argue that advances in global climate governance appear to be offering an early model of a consensual rules-based approach within the existing international order that provides space for advancing agility, flexibility, and polycentrism to meet the demands of ‘wicked problems’ like the cybersecurity of the IoT. Perhaps one of the most important lessons to be drawn across from climate governance is the role of robust mechanisms for knowledge exchange – specifically between the technical and policy communities.
Madeline Carr, Feja Lesniewska
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