Network of Regulatory Experimentation (Cities for People)

Meet-up 2: Reflections from a Toronto Horizon April 2-3, 2019

These turbulent times require that we rethink our assumptions – about our economies, our relationships with large corporations, public institutions, governments, nature, and with each other as citizens, as people, building society together. It requires the best in us, individually and collectively.

During the coming decade, we must accelerate a profound societal transition. And that means changing the rules – and the ways we go about making rules – to enable us to live and work together equitably and sustainably. History has given us this great opportunity, and we must act.

In April 2019, the McConnell Foundation, Dark Matter Labs, MaRS Solutions Lab and the Community of Federal Regulators cohosted a gathering of the emerging Network of Regulatory Experimentation – “RegX”. Our purpose was to consider and inform the design of regulatory innovation initiatives in Canada and to contribute to the international conversations taking place on this subject. As if to put our work in context, on the day of the gathering, Canada’s Changing Climate Report revealed that Canada is experiencing warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, with northern Canada heating up at almost three times the global average. Beyond climate, we face challenges of rising inequality, political polarization and declining trust in democratic institutions.

We are grateful to have committed and talented partners on this journey, including Dark Matter Labs – the author of this report – who are playing a key role in advancing governance innovation research and strategy in several countries.

Why did McConnell become interested in regulatory innovation? Increasingly, we are hearing from our civil society, Indigenous and government partners that they face regulatory barriers to achieving social and ecological impact. Regulatory innovation must be nuanced and carefully considered – it cannot mean relaxing rules to further concentrate power and wealth in big tech companies or extractive industries, or in a small number of hands. It needs to be about negotiating how we live and work together with greater care and responsibility, as stewards of a finite and precious planet. In addressing these issues, we should be mindful of the seven generations that came before us, and of the seven generations to come. They deserve nothing less.

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