In the age of digitalization, the dominance of digital platform ecosystems (DPEs) extends beyond concentration of product markets, impacting not only economic dynamics but also exerting influence on the broader well-being of individuals including its social and environmental dimensions. As private incentives often supersede social responsibilities even for the most powerful DPEs, competition regulators face the challenge to incorporate a broader concept of wellbeing and sustainability into their activities.

In October, Elena Rovenskaya, Program Director of Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) attended two conferences in New Delhi, India which invited dialogue between academics, high-level policymakers, and senior field experts from different countries on the growing impetus for an approach in competition policy which considers a broader set of actions on socially sensitive areas including reduction of inequality, protection of labor and social welfare, effective provision of healthcare, and addressing issues in areas which affect the wellbeing of citizens and economies.

On 9 and 10 October, Elena Rovenskaya gave a talk at the 8th CUTS-CIRC Biennial Conference on Competition, Regulation and Development organized by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and the CUTS Institute for Regulation & Competition (CIRC), as well as with the International BRICS Competition Law and Policy Centre, with support from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European University Institute (EUI). In this talk, co-authored with Alexey Ivanov Director of the BRICS Competition Law and Policy Center, Rovenskaya discussed how competition regulators could integrate the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) into their analyses. Her presentation highlighted the significant disparities seen in conventional competition policies versus the dynamic and fast-changing nature of digital markets.  Rovenskaya emphasized the opportunities from competition policy to revive a holistic approach in incorporating both non-economic factors, which resonate with the 17 UN SDGs, as well as economic factors which altogether ensures that competition authorities are conducive to the welfare of all participants in the digital era.

Rovenskaya’s talk was well-received by experts in competition policy including Hardin Ratshisusu, Deputy Commissioner of the Competition Commission in South Africa who remarked that South Africa has already yielded positive results in integrating the developmental concerns of citizens into national antitrust measures. Similar messages were expressed by Dina Waked, Associate Professor at Sciences Po Paris Law School, who noted the need for food value chain considerations in antitrust analyses for developing countries; and Lina Menghani, Global IP Consultant for the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) who presented the need for systemic transformation in international intellectual property regimes which is currently skewed in favor of the most powerful pharmaceutical companies.

From 11 to 13 October, Rovenskaya’s research contributed to discussions at the 8th BRICS International Competition Conference organized by Competition Commission of India (CCI) jointly with their counterparts in BRICS member countries. Alexey Ivanov presented his joint research with Elena Rovenskaya on sustainability and climate change as new dimensions in competition policy for BRICS countries as part of the wider ECOANTITRUST initiative. Their new research aims to use systems-based approaches to extend the reach of the competition policy toolkit for non-economic indicators such that authorities can assess the positive and negative externality claims often used by DPEs to justify their conduct.

The ECOANTITRUST initiative strives to advance a holistic and systems-based understanding of the digitalized platform economy by integrating CAS notions to study the digital economy through the medium of ecology. The project involves several experts in the fields of ecology, biology, mathematics, law, and more.

To read more about the conferences in New Delhi, click here (9-10 October) and here (11-13 October).

To read more about ECOANTITRUST past presentations in New Delhi, click here.

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