Ensuring regulatory quality is essential to allow our societies to benefit from the digital transformation’s potential to enhance prosperity, sustainability and well-being while mitigating associated risks and potential adverse effects.

In the current context of high uncertainty and rapid technological change, doing so requires a paradigm shift in regulatory policy and governance that enhances systemic resilience by enabling the development of agile, future-proof regulation. Therefore, the 2021 G20 Italian Presidency has entrusted the OECD with developing a survey on agile approaches to the regulatory governance of innovation. This survey complements existing initiatives aimed at fostering more holistic, adaptive and better-coordinated regulatory governance by improving our understanding of regulatory approaches to innovation and digital technologies, including their key underlying principles, processes and institutions.

Survey results show that G20 members are keenly aware of the far-reaching implications of innovation in terms of both challenges and opportunities for regulatory policy and governance, and are taking important steps in that context. A number of G20 members are adapting the guidance, requirements and methodology linked to the application of regulatory management tools in order to take better account of innovation and digitalisation. They recognise the need to ensure that regulatory action adapts to changes in technology and business models in an efficient and timely fashion. In addition, many members declared to involve domestic as well as foreign innovative stakeholders (e.g. start-ups and SMEs) in the development and review of regulations. Both proactive engagement with innovative stakeholders and consideration of international experience in rulemaking are often the result of adherence to non-binding guidance and willingness to pursue good practice rather than compliance with formal requirements.

While there are several valuable examples of coordination of regulatory systems within governments and across borders, there is scope for more extensive and systematic co-operation with sub-national levels of government as well as foreign jurisdictions in that respect. A number of governments are engaged in the development of international instruments, which are important to help align policy approaches on innovation.

In addition, many G20 members are putting in place a range of measures to develop and implement innovative, agile and forward-looking approaches to rulemaking in areas pertaining to innovation. Various bodies tasked with strategic foresight have been set up, and many countries and jurisdictions are issuing guidance to reduce uncertainty for businesses. Performance-oriented approaches are starting to develop, and they benefit, in some cases, from a strong legal anchoring. Regulatory experiments, such as sandboxes, and exemptions are also being developed. Survey results suggest that these agile approaches are being applied in key sectors of the economy such as mobility and transport, communications, healthcare and pharma, and not limited to the financial services. Governments are also seeking more riskbased and responsive regulatory enforcement, as illustrated by the fact that most respondents declared having adopted data-driven approaches to identify, assess and manage risks.

Crucially, the survey sheds light on the wealth of measures undertaken by governments in order to accommodate innovation-driven disruption while upholding fundamental rights, democratic values and the rule of law and ensuring a sufficient level of protection for citizens and the environment. The present report therefore provides a large number of examples to facilitate mutual learning as well as the diffusion of good practices pertaining to agile regulatory governance. Quantitative survey results should however be interpreted with caution given the self-reported nature of the data as well as the limited number of questions. These findings should be considered an important first step that may be complemented through further data collection on aspects such as frequency, intensity and effectiveness of certain practices.

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