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  • July 10, 2019
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Weekly Briefing: How to find out what citizens want

Our weekly rundown of global policy

Top Stories

Canada’s new mentorship program sends public servants on exchange. They leave their department to join another for up to 30 days, where they work on tackling their toughest challenges. Participants say spending time in a new environment helps them learn new skills and shed bad habits. (Heather Laird, People Exchange)

Do you know what your algorithms are up to? A new report reveals that several Central and Eastern European countries are using automated decision-making without any legal or ethical checks in place. Being transparent about AI and automation is key to earning citizens’ trust. (Krzysztof Izdebski, ePaństwo Foundation)

Figuring out what citizens want isn’t easy, even for scientists. When people vote, they don’t get to engage in nuanced discussions about the issues they care about — if they did, they may think differently about them. It’s time for new forms of public deliberation, policymaking and regulation. (Claire Craig, The Royal Society)

Mindfulness isn’t just for adults — it can help children control their emotions, too. Schools are using the wellness technique as a way to teach students how to recognise and control their feelings. Research shows that it can temper bullying, aggression and sexual harassment. (Apolitical)


Policymakers need to harness the positive, inclusive impacts of new tech like AI and blockchain — while mitigating the bad. To help them figure out how, The World Economic Forum has introduced a new tool: the Agile Governance Navigator. Check It Out.

Governance and Citizen Engagement

Housing is a citizen’s right, says Portugal. A new law aims to curb gentrification and end homelessness by making more affordable housing available and banning tenant evictions — which are common in Lisbon — unless the state can provide similar accommodation nearby. (CityLab)

Kyrgyzstan became the first country in the world to end statelessness. It issued birth certificates and passports to the last 50 known stateless people in the country. An estimated 10-15 million people worldwide live without the right to vote, travel, own property or access health care and education. (UNHCR)

Energy, Environment and Economic Opportunity

Lessons from Europe’s 2003 heatwave are saving lives this summer. Facing extreme heat, cities from Paris to Barcelona are handing out water in train stations, asking people to check on elderly neighbours and opening air-conditioned schools and libraries to residents. In 2003, over 35,000 people died. (Thomson Reuters)

Paris passed one of Europe’s most restrictive car bans. Some 2.7 million vehicles — about a third in the region — will be prohibited from entering the city centre in a bid to improve air quality. It follows a report showing that Paris is more polluted than any other EU capital. (The Times)


“If there is a general lack of trust towards governments today, are we then — as citizens — also right to distrust the tools provided to us by the public administration?” — Krzysztof Izdebski, Policy Director at the ePaństwo Foundation

Health and Ageing

Spanish social workers are prescribing Pokémon Go to fight loneliness. The augmented reality game helps people stay active and make social connections: to win, players need to meet up and wage battle together. 29,000 players joined forces in Badalona, Spain last year. (Quartz)

Gender Equality

NASA is changing how it chooses which projects get telescope time to reduce gender bias. In a new double-blind system, neither the proposer nor the reviewer will know who the other is. It’s designed to eliminate systemic biases that have plagued the agency’s review of research proposals. (Nature)

And finally

A Kansas City man threw a birthday party for a three-month-old pothole. Frustrated with the city’s slow response, he held a celebration complete with cake and candles. The hole was filled shortly after — now, he’s planning a graduation bash for the road’s patched asphalt. (Business Insider)

(Picture credit: Unsplash)


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