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  • June 19, 2019
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Weekly Briefing: Are you being passive aggressive?; Europe’s most innovative cities

Our weekly rundown of global policy

Top Stories

We need to talk about the passive aggressive culture in government. Public servants often deal in riddles and cold shoulders, rather than address conflict directly. Here’s how open communication can not only make work more pleasant, but help public sector innovation flourish. (Jordana Globerman, Canada’s ESDC Innovation Lab)

What’s it like to be a woman in government? That’s the question we want you to answer in our new writing competition. Any woman is invited to enter, and the winning entries will be promoted to our network of influential members in 170 countries, including mayors, ministers and former heads of state. (Apolitical)

How smart should a city be? Governments are embracing tech advances like big data, AI and machine learning at the risk of civil liberties, serendipity — and even democracy. If we don’t rethink how we build our cities, danger lies ahead. (Ben Green, Harvard University)

Agile working is solving Chile’s toughest challenges. Every two weeks, its innovation lab decides what the country’s most pressing problem is and uses Agile, a project management process borrowed from the tech sector, to solve it. Here’s how the technique can help civil servants work more efficiently. (Apolitical)

It’s lonely at the top for women in government — networks can help. We know it’s hard to get elected as a woman: they make up only 6.6% of heads of state globally. Once they do, they face another challenge: a lack of peers and mentors, with whom they can share successes, problems and best practice. (Annie Osborne, Vital Voices)


Have you worked on an interesting policy? Want to share your thoughts on a policymaking trend? Reach influencers in 160+ countries by contributing to Apolitical as an opinion writer. Submit Your Idea Here.

Governance and Citizen Engagement

London, Amsterdam and Copenhagen are Europe’s top cities for digital social innovation. That’s according to a new ranking that compares 60 cities’ capacity for tackling social challenges. The goal is to show governments what their cities are good at, and where they can improve. (Nesta)

Seattle’s campaign finance experiment is curbing big donors’ influence. In 2015, the city started mailing $100 ‘democracy vouchers’ to residents, who can donate the funds to local politicians. The program is encouraging more grassroots candidates to compete and voters to get involved. (The Seattle Times)

Health and Safety

Deadly shootings are down 30% in California’s Bay Area. The dramatic drop is being attributed to a combination of criminal justice reforms — which have cut the state’s prison population by a quarter since 2006 — and investment in community-driven public health approaches. (The Guardian)

How do you get more men to donate blood? Appeal to their pride, the UK says. Its National Health Service has seen a 25% drop in men donating over the last five years. New ads call on their sense of patriotism: “Bleed for the country you love”, one exhorts. (Wired)


“Passive-aggressive communication quashes conflict and leaves no opening for dissent. Diversity of thought is crucial to arriving at innovative solutions. Without productive conflict, nothing can evolve” — Jordana Globerman, Canada’s ESDC Innovation Lab

Technology Frontiers

Ghana is taking a data-driven approach to fighting poverty. It’s using satellite imagery to find and count ‘invisibles’ — residents who live in slums or are homeless — and help them more effectively. The key to targeting these people, the government has realised, is disaggregating data by location, gender and age. (Vox)

Gender Equality

The UK banned ads depicting gender stereotypes. Marketers can no longer air or print commercials that ask women if they’re ‘beach-body ready’, or feature men who struggle to do a load of laundry. Belgium, France, Finland, Greece, Norway, South Africa and India already have similar laws in place. (The New York Times)

And finally

A Pakistani politician accidentally livestreamed a press conference with the cat filter on. Regional minister Shaukat Yousafzai delivered a Facebook Live address wearing pink ears, a black nose and furry whiskers. His party apologised and deleted the video within minutes. (CNN)

(Picture credit: Unsplash)


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