Ecosystem level

Summary of ecosystem impacts and factors that contribute to them


Project or technology features that support these impacts

Market shifts in the focus of innovation

  • Targeted funding calls and Challenge Prizes focusing on specific issues, technologies or geographies
  • Community-managed data assets

Empowerment of Indigenous Peoples and overlooked groups for land governance

  • Participatory design
  • Using icons and multiple languages to improve accessibility of digital tools
  • Community-defined indices of inclusivity

Improved security and reduced corruption

  • E-payments sent directly to individuals and communities


The final category of impacts demonstrated by collective intelligence projects relates to changes at the ecosystem level, where they are disrupting traditional structures of power and influencing market dynamics. 

This is most clearly seen through the influence of open innovation projects that help to shift the trajectory of climate technology development or stimulate the market to generate data and solutions about a particular topic. For example, the eligibility criteria for the Million Cool Roofs Challenge and the Cooling Prize ensured that solutions had to be affordable, inclusive and appropriate for the Global South. This is a marked difference from most technology innovation that is driven by market priorities and interests in the Global North.

The digitization of community-managed assets like seedbanks, as seen in the Bioleft project, is another way that collective intelligence is disrupting existing market dynamics. By creating a new database of diverse, locally cultivated seeds for the benefit of local smallholders, the project is helping to challenge international extraction and the pressures of agricultural monocultures.

A final important impact that can be seen in several projects is how they come up with creative ways to connect actors across the value chain to directly exchange services and payments. Clean City Africa and BaKhabar Kissan are two projects where digital platforms are directly connecting producers to distributors and suppliers to improve coordination. This is helping to reduce transaction costs and opportunities for corruption, as well as helping local markets to operate more efficiently.

Several collective intelligence projects are also using technology to shift traditional lines of power within land governance and ecosystem management. For example, the Sapelli project co-designed a data collection tool for forest management, with Indigenous Baka communities in Cameroon to ensure that it was easily understood by participants. The CyberTracker tool for biodiversity and ecosystem management was also co-developed with communities in Namibia. Like the Sapelli tool, it uses pictograms to enable Indigenous trackers in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy in the Kalahari to capture data. The LANDex platform crowdsources people-centered indices and data on land ownership, to advocate for the rights of women, men and communities “who live on and from the land.” In Nepal, government representatives have committed to exploring the use of the LANDex tool for official data collection. These tools provide groups that are typically overlooked in local land management disputes with the means to build an evidence base to help them make their case with decision makers or other stakeholders.