Welcome to the 4th and last part of the e-Discussions, now focusing on “Transparent, inclusive, and responsive public service delivery”, and on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected progress towards establishing more ‘just societies’, as envisioned by SDG 16, and what is needed for an equitable recovery from this crisis. The findings and experiences shared here will be consolidated into an overall synthesis report feeding into the Global Roundtable at the 2021 High-level Political Forum, and your contributions will be acknowledged in the report.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exponentially scaled up demand for public goods and services while eroding traditional channels and resources for public service delivery. However, ensuring transparent, inclusive, and responsive public service delivery is critical to mitigating the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic,
Transparency means that information on budgetary processes and government decisions, implementation modalities and beneficiaries are publicly accessible, or at least that there is an element of checks and balances. Transparency is crucial to engendering trust, reaffirming the social contract and strengthening social cohesion. All of this is needed to respond effectively to the challenges of COVID-19. Transparency on the part of government is also vital to mobilize and sustain financing and support from other actors (donors, private sector, philanthropists) for an effective policy response.
Public service delivery must also be inclusive, ensuring that ‘no one is left behind’. The number of poor and vulnerable people has increased due to the pandemic. Overcoming the emerging global poverty trends depends on the inclusivity of the policy response. At a minimum, inclusiveness requires that service coverage expands to include vulnerable groups and that equity of service quality and access is prioritised. The range of available basic services also needs to be broadened, considering the different dimensions and multi-sectoral nature of COVID-19 impacts.
Lastly, responsive and timely public service delivery is fundamental to overall policy response. COVID-19 containment policies have meant that traditional delivery models, mostly face-to-face, have often been ineffective. Innovation around other models - especially digitization of service delivery - will be crucial. In addition, early response and preparation to ensure that institutions are resilient and can effectively respond are critical.
Overall, the three qualities - transparency, inclusiveness, and responsiveness - need to work together. They should complement each other and result in effective service delivery to the whole population.
This e-discussion will examine how COVID-19 is affecting transparency, inclusiveness, and responsiveness of public service delivery, and the implications of this for sustainable development in the context of Agenda 2030. Related to this, participants will be encouraged to map emerging trends at the global, regional, national and local levels. Innovative public service delivery mechanisms to respond to and recover from COVID-19, as well as to deliver just and equitable development, will be part of the conversation.
Some additional questions to frame the discussion are:
What are the emerging constraints to ensuring transparent, inclusive, and responsive public service delivery? Do these constraints predate the COVID-19 pandemic and are these temporal or structural challenges?
What are the implications of poor or exclusionary public service provision for recovery efforts and on progress made on Agenda 2030? In your view, what are the implications of poor service delivery on the achievement of SDG 16 targets on building peaceful, inclusive, and effective institutions, and good governance?
What are the current policy responses to these constraints and what more needs to be done?
How has the mode of provision of public goods affected the existing social contract, trust, and governance structure before and during COVID-19 (i.e. both under the lockdown and movement restrictions) and reflection on post-COVID-19?
What lessons are important to draw from the pandemic for improving public service delivery? What innovations and best practices are adaptable and scalable post-COVID-19?
The moderators for the e-discussion are:
Adedeji Adeniran, Director of Governance and Education Research, The Center for the Study of the Economies of Africa
Zoe Pelter, Policy Specialist, Local Governance, UNDP Crisis Bureau
Aseem Andrews, Policy Specialist, UNDP Oslo Governance Centre
Welcome message from Adedeji Adeniran:
To kick us off, Southern Voice member Avani Kapur (CPR-India) wrote an article on the “Four Lessons the Pandemic has taught us on Accountability”.
We look forward to hearing your ideas and to an engaging conversation!
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