• News
  • July 17, 2019
  • 6 minutes
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Weekly Briefing: The public servant’s guide to better meetings

Our weekly rundown of global policy

Top Stories

Field guide: How government innovation works. Use this learning resource — comprising not just articles, but tools like a directory, map, innovation atlas and quiz — to learn what public sector innovation is, why it will revolutionise your work and how you can bring it into your team. (Apolitical)

Meetings are a drain on public servants’ time — here’s how to have better ones. In this guide, you’ll get top tips from rockstar civil servants on how to reboot your meetings, a set of questions that will help you run them more efficiently and a checklist to help you stay focused. (Apolitical)

Israel drove digital transformation by putting people first. Instead of focusing on systems and dashboards, Israel invested in human capital. From teaching civil servants to be advocates to empowering disruptors, the strategy is spreading digital skills throughout government. (Bruno Sánchez-Andrade Nuño, Impactscience.dev)

Want to get a week of work done in one day? Try a design sprint. Design is creative and fun — but you need a strategy to propel the process. Here are six key ingredients for a successful sprint, from having an interdisciplinary team to being flexible about your goals.
(Jordana Globerman, The Innovation Lab, Canada)


Happy teams are key to a high-performing government — but all over the world, public servants are taking time off for mental health reasons. In this free workshop, we’ll teach you how to boost your wellbeing and build a healthy team culture. Join us on July 31 at 11am EDT. Save your spot.

Health and Ageing

Australia is on the road to eradicating HIV transmission. The number of new infections has dropped dramatically: from 2,412 in 1987 to 835 in 2018. The decline is being attributed to universal healthcare, political will and a campaign designed to scare the public into awareness. (The New York Times)

The UK’s National Health Service will dole out advice via Alexa. Amazon’s AI will use information from the NHS’s website to answer common questions about symptoms. It’s primarily for the elderly, blind people and others who can’t easily search for advice online. Critics question the security of the data. (The Guardian)

Technology Frontiers

All US federal agencies will be paperless by 2022. They currently spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of hours creating, using and storing analogue records. Switching to digital means citizens will no longer have to deal with government in person or by mail. (Global Government Forum)

Vietnam’s new e-Cabinet system is modelled after Estonia’s. It aims to cut meeting times by 30%, reduce corruption and move from a paper-based system to a digital one. The idea is that by modernising, the government will be more transparent and efficient. (Open Gov Asia)


“Not caring about politics is a sure way to put the people in power who discourage us from caring. All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing” — Bruno Sánchez-Andrade Nuño, Impactscience.dev

Energy, Environment and Economic Opportunity

France will introduce a green tax on outbound flights in 2020. It will charge between $1.70 and $20 per flight. The ecotax is expected to raise $225 million per year, which will fund more environmentally friendly means of transportation. Sweden introduced a more punitive $45 tax last year. (AP)

Ireland will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030. It will also introduce a nationwide charging system for electric cars. It’s part of the country’s new climate action plan, which aims to reduce carbon emissions by 20% by 2030 and make Ireland carbon-neutral by 2050. (BBC)

Utrecht is covering hundreds of bus stops with plants to save the bees. The sedum plants boost biodiversity and improve air quality. The Dutch city also outfitted its bus stops with energy-efficient LED lights and bamboo benches, as part of a plan to make its public transit “completely clean” by 2028. (The Independent)

And finally

A bishop baptised an entire city. He drove through Buenaventura — named Colombia’s most dangerous city in 2014 — on a firetruck, spraying citizens with holy water. It’s hoped the baptism will exorcise demons in a city beset by violence, drug smuggling and poverty.

(Picture credit: Pixabay)


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