Meet the network tearing down walls between departments in Taiwan. Civil servants are told collaboration is key to innovation, but siloes and rivalries too often prevent it. In Taipei, a crack team of public servants meets regularly to hash out policy change — and their influence is spreading through government.
Find out how much you really know about gender policy. Test your knowledge of women’s empowerment around the world — and find out whether you’re a gender genius or an equality apprentice — with our 10-question quiz.
It takes five hours to complete a government transaction in Latin America. In a region where online public services are scarce, paying a fine or applying for ID is often slow and costly. Here’s how digitisation, citizen engagement and competition between agencies can curb the bureaucracy.
Mapped: Rural suicide is rising in the US — and government can’t keep up. Isolation, stigma around mental illness and easy access to guns are exacerbating suicidal behaviour in the countryside. States need systemic reform, experts say, but funding remains concentrated in cities.
If you want kids to play outside, building playgrounds isn’t enough. New research suggests that dedicated play spaces don’t make cities more child-friendly. Instead, urban planners should design inclusive public spaces, where all age groups feel comfortable.
Top Writing By Our Members
Let’s talk about public servants’ hidden superpower: resilience. Government workers are often portrayed as the most cautious of people — slow to change; unable to innovate. But the truth is that we have a special talent: the ability to fail and get back up, time and time again.
(Brigette Metzler, Australian Government Department of Human Services
Want public servants to innovate? Teach them at university. Governments don’t have the time or resources to teach their employees innovation methods en masse. If they partnered with academics to teach public servants the skills of the future, universities could do that job for them.
(Michael O’Neill, The Institute On Governance)
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Energy, Environment and Economic Opportunity
California is on the verge of passing the most important climate law in US history. Its assembly passed a bill requiring all state electricity to come from carbon-free sources by 2045, which would mean a complete shift to clean energy. It still needs to be approved by the Senate and governor.
(MIT Technology Review)
Electric car sales in Europe grew by 40% in the first half of 2018. There are now more than a million electric, hybrid and low-emission cars across the continent, with the most sold in Norway, Germany and the UK. China, which has a much larger car market, reached the milestone last year.
In the midst of a pollution crisis, Indonesia enlisted its military to clear litter. The armed forces clean up rivers and canals clogged with plastic bags, bottles and other packaging. The commander of one military unit called plastic ‘our biggest enemy’.
Sweden released a roadmap for governments that want to adopt a feminist foreign policy. It includes lessons learned and a checklist for policymakers dealing with resistance. Sweden says gender equality is a prerequisite for achieving its other goals, like peace and security.
(Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It’s very important to rethink the structure of how government works: how services are provided as well as how policy is made” —Fang-Jui Chang, service designer at Taiwan’s Public Digital Innovation Space
Trikala, Greece’s first smart city, cut its debt in half by acting as a testing ground for innovations. Many have improved citizens’ lives: an online complaint system reduced the time it takes to resolve city issues from one month to eight days. ‘Now you don’t need to know a politician to get things done,’ said one civil servant.
Health and Ageing
The Netherlands is at the forefront of experimental care for dementia patients. Video simulations of bus rides, beach trips and pub visits help them cope with memory loss and disorientation. Carers say the patients need less medication and fewer physical restraints.
(The New York Times)
Don’t move to Omaui, New Zealand if you want a pet cat. The small coastal village plans to ban all domestic cats to protect native wildlife from extinction. Residents who already own felines will have to have them neutered, microchipped and registered with local authorities.
Do you know of groundbreaking work in government that we should be writing about? Please send any pointers to email@example.com.