The United Nations Public Service Day, celebrated on 23 June each year, highlights the work of public servants and recognises the value and virtue of public service to the community and development processes.
The Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in collaboration with the government of the United Arab Emirates will host a virtual celebration to celebrate the 2021 United Nations Public Service Day, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), in collaboration with the government of the United Arab Emirates will host a 1.5-hour virtual event on the 23 June. The event will bring together key stakeholders, public servants and UN officials to honor the work of public servants.
This year's event will highlight the centric role that innovation and technology play in the delivery of public services and examines how to better prepare the future public service for a new era, so as to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It will examine the approaches countries are taking to equip public servants with the skills necessary to be effective, responsive and relevant in the digital age. It will also highlight lessons learned from the past year, as many countries and public servants have been thrust into the digital era, quickly adopting, innovating and using online mechanisms to continue their work during the pandemic.
The last decade brought about a digital revolution that changed the way we live, work, and govern. Technology and data driven innovations have increased the pace of our daily life, opened up information and elevated civil society voices and changed how we solve problems, design policy and deliver services. In parallel, governments find themselves under resource pressures and increasing public demands, having to do much more, with less. The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic was a force multiplier to these trends, introducing remote work in government, digital service delivery, virtual service teams, and even new portfolios.
Today, every country in the world needs to re-think the structure and operating model of its civil service as we enter the third decade of the 21st century. The next era will see fundamental changes in how public servants, are hired, trained, and retained. The world will see more technology being leveraged to make better decisions, monitor performance, and deliver service, and there will be a need for the private sector, and wider society, to play a bigger role in all aspect of creating public value. The future public service needs to be more agile, tech-savvy, data-driven, and human-centric. These are core elements to build future readiness, ensure inclusive policies and responsive services, to reduce inequalities and to raise trust in government.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected over 180 countries, infected more than 6.5 million people and killed more than 383,000 (as of 3 June 2020). In addition to the health implications and loss of life, the pandemic has strained health care systems, disrupted the education system, wreaked havoc on businesses and economies, led to job losses and disrupted social life with lockdowns, curfews and other stringent measures aimed at containing the virus being implemented globally. All this has happened in the context of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, where the Public Service and Public Servants are critical.
The following are identified as the roles public servants play in implementing the 2030 Agenda:
(i) policy and strategy planning; (ii) provision of services; (iii) development of infrastructure; (iv) mobilization and utilization of resources; (v) monitoring and evaluation; and (vi) institutional and human resource capacity development.
THE ROLE OF PUBLIC SERVICE AND PUBLIC SERVANTS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
From frontline healthcare workers and public health officials to teachers, sanitation workers, social welfare officers and more, the humble public servant has been thrust into the spotlight, helping elevate awareness and understanding of the critical role public servants play in everyday life, and in particular during times of severe crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to be achieved effective delivery of public services is needed, including in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If not contained, the pandemic will jeopardize meeting the 2030 deadline, by diverting resources from development efforts to crisis response. The public servant sits at the heart of ensuring effective response to the crisis, whether as a frontline worker in healthcare, or in devising strategies and plans to mitigate its impact.
This policy paper outlines nine key roles public servants have been and must continue to play to ensure an effective response to the pandemic: (i) ensuring continuity of public services; (ii) providing service before self, courage and humanness in practice; (iii) quick thinking, creativity and innovation; (iv) information and awareness creation; (v) strategic thinking and planning amidst chaos; (vi) sustaining resilience and building a better effective and more responsive public service; (vii) building and enhancing State legitimacy, government credibility and people's trust; (viii) resource allocation and distributive accountability; and (ix) collaborative and networked leadership.