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COVID-19 has shone a bright light on a number of failings and weaknesses in how current economic models handle information and knowledge. Some of these are familiar issues that have long been understood but not acted upon effectively – for example, the danger that current systems of intellectual property and patent protection are actually inimical to delivering a cost-effective vaccine available to all, whereas treating knowledge as a commons and a public good is much more likely to deliver efficient outcomes for the entire global population. But COVID-19 has also demonstrated that traditional models of knowledge production and dissemination are failing us; scientific knowledge is becoming weaponized and hyper-partisan, and confidence in this knowledge is falling. We believe that the challenges that COVID-19 has exposed in the information economy and ecology will be of increasing applicability across the whole spectrum of sustainability; sustainability scholars and policymakers need to understand and grasp them now if we are to avoid contagion into other sectors due to the preventable errors that have marred the global response to COVID-19. Social media summary COVID-19 highlights both the failures of privatized knowledge and worrying fractures in the wider information ecology.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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