27 June 2017
UN Public Service Forum Showcases Innovation for SDG Challenges
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The UN Public Service Forum recognized institutions from 11 countries for their innovation and excellence in providing public services in support of SDG implementation.

The event recognized initiatives from Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Botswana, Colombia, Ecuador, France, India, Mongolia, Thailand and the UK.

23 June 2017: The UN Public Service Forum recognized institutions from 11 countries for their innovation and excellence in providing public services in support of SDG implementation. The Forum highlighted innovative initiatives by public institutions to address challenges encountered in implementing the SDGs.

The Forum took place under the theme, ‘The Future is Now: Accelerating Public Service Innovation for Agenda 2030,’ from 22-23 June 2017, in The Hague, Netherlands. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ (DESA) Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) organized the Forum with the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands.

On climate change, participants suggested balancing global guidelines with local needs.

Forum participants discussed ways to mobilize public services and accelerate innovation to achieve the SDGs, including by: making economic and social inclusion the “new normal” by working with minority role models to foster social dialogue; achieving quality education by connecting employers with universities to streamline education and labor market demands; tackling biodiversity degradation by creating innovative change among indigenous communities, farmers, companies, and knowledge institutions; and, with regard to climate change, balancing global guidelines with local needs. Thomas Gass, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, called for empowering public servants to try new ways of doing things and take risks to transform institutions.

On lessons learned, participants highlighted four key lessons, including that development: cannot be a cookie-cutter approach, but must be owned by nations with their own objectives, driven by competent leadership and capable institutions; cannot occur in a vacuum but must allow and enable a voice by all; must make full use of enabling means of technology, including science; and hinges on cooperation and integrative policy making. Participants emphasized the importance of leadership at the highest level of government to achieve the SDGs, saying leaders must be ethical, professional, effective, responsible and responsive.

The Awards Ceremony showcased initiatives to improve people’s lives from Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Mongolia and the UK. A winning project from Argentina provides quality early childhood education in disadvantaged neighborhoods. In Australia, a winning initiative promotes transparency and inclusiveness in the use of public funds and resources. A project in Ecuador provides inclusive access to quality health care. In India, a project addresses child marriage through a scholarship programme for adolescent girls. Among the second-place winners, a project in Botswana implements a waste management system, and in France, the highlighed project addresses water management. And initiative in Thailand provides quality elder care.

Also at the Forum, youth representatives presented a Youth Declaration for signature, declaring, “we’ve got the solutions, you’ve got the power, now let’s act together.” Youth and UN representatives signed the Declaration during a ministerial conversation on accelerating innovations in public service. [DESA Press Release] [UN Public Service Forum]

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