Expert voices Vol 20, No. 3 - March 2016

Accountable public administration for sustainable development

Without an inclusive and accountable public administration, it is unlikely that the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development will be achieved. To share knowledge of innovative practices and lessons learned on how to build such an administration, UN DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) is hosting a symposium in Cochamba, Bolivia on 16-17 March.

We asked Marion Barthelemy, Acting Director of DPADM, and Adriana Alberti, Senior Governance and Public Administration Officer of DPADM, to share their views on the role of public administration in sustainable development.

How important is inclusive and accountable public administration for the achievement of sustainable development?

“Public institutions will be directly responsible for translating the sustainable development goals into development strategies and action plans, and for keeping track of progress. Capable, inclusive and accountable state institutions are needed to ensure the quality and equitable access to public services, including education, health, sanitation, etc. They help ensure rule of law and shape an enabling environment for realizing the SDGs. But realizing the SDGs requires ensuring institutions with adequate skills and capacities to plan and implement policies, adopt whole of Government approaches, collect and use statistics and project the impact of policies. This also requires international cooperation.”

How does the improvement of gender balance in public service and decision influence the process of sustainable development?

“Finding innovative solutions will require women’s full participation in the decisions that affect their own lives and those of their communities. Equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life will be central to more prosperous, inclusive and sustainable societies.”

How can governments stimulate citizen engagement in public administration?

“In the past, the general public was seen as passive receivers of services and governments were the main providers of ‘solutions’. Today we realize that, given the opportunity to actively participate in service design and delivery, people can contribute distinctive resources in terms of time, effort, ideas and expertise. Governments can utilize a host of innovative ways to engage citizens. The use of ICTs, including social media, has revolutionized the way governments inform, consult and involve people.”

To what extend does corruption – both small and large scale – negatively impact
sustainable development?

“Corruption can seriously make institutions unable to deliver services effectively and equitably, to address the needs of the most vulnerable groups, and to promote peaceful and inclusive societies. It diverts vital resources, that can otherwise be allocated to tackling poverty eradication and promoting prosperity for all. There are many factors, but corruption thrives in the presence of weak public institutions, coupled with the private sector and civil society’s inability to keep governments accountable. Thus, preventing and combatting corruption requires a multipronged approach that systematically addresses its root causes.”

How can the UN help Member States to improve their institutions and public services?

“It is essential that governments have the capacity to ensure that institutions are equipped to support the implementation of the SDGs in an integrated, effective, accountable and inclusive fashion.

The UN can help Member States to learn from one another by exchanging ideas and knowledge about innovative practices, strategies and lessons learned on how to improve their institutions and public services. This is the purpose of the symposium we are organizing in Bolivia. It can help not only by allowing peer-to-peer exchange of knowledge and innovative solutions but also by boosting cooperation.”

For more information:

Symposium on the promotion of an inclusive and accountable public administration for sustainable development.

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