• News
  • October 31, 2018
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Weekly briefing: How rebels changed policy; China’s manmade moon

Our roundup of what's working in global policy

complex systems thinking

Top Stories

Three barriers hold back government innovation. If they are to thrive in the public service, innovators need better professional development opportunities, shared vocabulary and a stronger sense of community, according to new research on the state of the field.

One simple tweak to traffic lights could transform cities for pedestrians. Many cities don’t give elderly and disabled people enough time to cross roads, which can discourage them from walking at all. To solve this problem, London will trial crossing lights that signal green until sensors detect a car approaching.

Do you know a rising star in government? Someone who is driving change and making a difference to citizens’ lives? Have your say and contribute to our list of the most influential young people in government. Nominate here

Policy evaluations fail too often — here’s how to make them more nimble. Randomised controlled trials, the gold standard for evidence, can miss implementation problems. A new execution-focused approach could be a cheaper, more dynamic alternative.

Top Writing From Our Members

The history of innovation labs: How rebels came to shape policy. From MindLab throwing hand grenades at Danish bureaucracy to TACSI radically transforming policy family by family, we take a look at the past — and future — of public sector innovation.
(Alex Ryan, VP Of Systems Innovation at Mars Solutions Lab)

How policymaking could be transformed — with just three simple tools. Creating better policy doesn’t require complex algorithms or fancy technology. Citizen engagement, multidisciplinary teams and a flexible approach are much more effective.
(Emma Rose Coleman, New America)


The Schwab Foundation’s annual awards for social entrepreneurship are approaching, and this year they’re introducing multiple categories for the first time. If you know of great people who deserve recognition, they want your nominations!
Nominate Here

Evolving Cities

Dunkirk, France is the largest European city to offer free public transit. Both residents and visitors get free access to buses equipped with WiFi and charger points. ‘It’s a public service they look at differently: they say ‘bonjour’ to the driver; they talk to each other,’ said the mayor.
(The Guardian)

A Chinese city will light up its streets with a man-made moon. Chengdu will use a satellite to illuminate 10 to 80 kilometres of its streets with a light eight times brighter than the real moon. Officials say it could replace the city’s streetlights.
(The Smithsonian)

Energy, Environment and Economic Opportunity

Denmark may start labelling food with its environmental impact. Under the new proposal, food manufacturers and supermarkets would have to disclose their products’ effects on the environment. The goal is to help consumers make more informed decisions.
(The Local)

The tiny island nation of Palau will host the world’s largest microgrid. The grid, a public-private partnership with a French utility firm, will help the Pacific archipelago reach 70% renewable energy by 2050. Rising sea levels already threaten its islands.
(Scientific American)


“Innovation is often slow and small and not shiny, and takes a lot of time. It’s not always going to look like blockchain for the homeless — it’s more often about smarter ways to fill potholes in the city” — Hana Schank, public interest technology fellow at New America

Gender Equality

Ethiopia appointed its first female president. The decision comes a week after the government was reorganised to give women half of all cabinet posts. Sahle-Work Zewde, a former ambassador and UN special representative, is Africa’s only current woman president.

Governance and Citizen Engagement

Some 36,000 citizens applied for a minister position in Iraq. Members of the public were invited to apply for ministerial posts through a special government website. It’s part of a plan to rid the Iraqi civil service of the political and ethnic divisions that hinder progress.
(World Economic Forum)

And finally

The UK government banned the use of the phrase ‘fake news’. After a committee agreed that the term is ‘poorly defined and misleading’, civil servants will no longer be allowed to use it in official documents.
(Civil Service World)


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