all for South-South: A paradigm shift in global cooperation
Traditionally, knowledge and insights on innovations and information & communication technologies (ICTs) to improve public service delivery tended to flow from countries of the global North to those of the South. In recent times, tides have turned and countries in the global South are finding it very productive to develop collaboration amongst themselves. Indeed, they are well-positioned to understand each other’s development realities, what works and what does not, and more importantly, the whys behind the successes and failures. They also recognize, some for the first time in the countries’ history, the need to experiment on their own turfs and avoid mistakes made by similar countries. The expectation is that countries facing common challenges and seeking to achieve common goals can make faster progress through shared learning and experiences.
What can Bangladesh contribute?
Bangladesh currently holds the Presidency of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation, the highest body in the United Nations for promotion of South-South Cooperation. Long known as a development laboratory for areas such as microfinance and climate change adaptation, Bangladesh has added public service delivery to its focus areas of innovation supported by a2i from the PMO. The government is going through tremendous changes to respond to rapidly rising expectations of the citizens, accelerating technological transformations and strong competitive pressure from private service providers.
a2i’s user-centric toolkits to facilitate the following:
‘Empathy Training’ to thousands of government officers and widespread experimentation in civil service establishing a culture of citizen-centric innovation, breaking silos of operations and helping move towards a whole-of-government planning and execution. Several Innovation Lab+ have been set up to improve service delivery in agriculture, land and judiciary and expand the reaches of financial inclusion.
Massive and rapid digitization of service delivery across all ministries and agencies through use of Service Process Simplification to reduce citizens’ time, cost and number of visits to government offices
Public private partnerships at the national level and at the grassroots to decentralize and aggregate scores of public and private services from one-stop Digital Centres serving millions.
Many of these achievements were recognized through prestigious World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) awards given to Bangladesh in consecutive years of 2014, 2015 and 2016.
South-South Network on Scaling Up Innovations in Public Service Delivery
a2i shares the insights gained from its work since 2007 within the international community and has formed South-South Cooperation arrangements with several countries. Reputed local and international researchers are publishing impact studies as well as documentation of methodologies of how this government-wide and country-wide transformation is being orchestrated. Sharing events take place in the form of policy dialogues in Bangladesh and other countries, knowledge-sharing expositions and knowledge products in text, infographics and audio-visual format being disseminated through the internet and social media. A High-level side event on ‘South-South and Triangular Cooperation on Scaling Up Innovations in Public Service Delivery’ is chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh alongside the UN General Assembly in September 2016.
A ‘South-South Network on Scaling Up Innovations in Public Service Delivery’ is being considered amongst the relevant countries. The network would undertake the identification of good practices in public service delivery innovations and facilitate sharing of such knowledge with a view to scaling up these innovations in the South. The countries in the North may bring in the wealth of their experiences for knowledge sharing, and may provide support to the network.