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It's time for the third generation of government

10 February 2014


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Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, addresses the Government Summit

Governments today face challenges and opportunities like never before – that was the essence of the keynote address delivered by Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Switzerland, at the second UAE Government Summit being held in Dubai over three days from Feb 10-12, 2014.

Today, governments the world are Government 2.0, which use technology to interact with citizens. The future is about entrepreneurs in public service, or Government 3.0, he said, which will let citizens collaborate with governments.

“Government 3.0 is the next form of government,” he said. It’s like YouTube or Apple’s iPad platform, he said. “YouTube is already Government 3.0 – because you provide content,” he noted. “Just like the iPad platform of Apple, the Government 3.0 will provide the framework, and citizens will put the applications that they need and want,” he noted.

In his address during the first day of the UAE Government Summit in Dubai on Monday, Schwab talked about four forms of governance. He noted that there’s a kind of governance not only to deliver services, but to interact with citizens.

“Here you have a new relationship between governments and citizens, interactive relationships – relationships where citizens can engage, make proposals, criticize and so on,” he said.

That’s the future of government that Schwab sees. He said a new relationship between governments and citizens has emerged with the onset of new technologies, resulting in government being able to provide the best services for the future.

“But what we are seeing is already the next form of governance, which I will call governance 3.0, where people are co-owners co shapers and are really engaged in working together with governments to provide the best services for the future,” he said.

Schwab said there are three main driving forces that can be taken into account if you look at governments of the future. “First is big data, which should be a great revolution, which means that we can capture not only what’s happening. We can capture the profile of citizens, which means that as a government, we can much more individualize our services,” he said.

He said that big data “will certainly be one of the driving factors of and one of the tools governments can use to improve its service and to individualize its service.”  The next driving factor is public-private cooperation, he said.

“We know today that the challenges we face cannot be solved by governments alone. They cannot be solved by business alone or by civil society alone. What we need is multi-stakeholder cooperation to shape our future.”

As per Schwab, there are a number of challenges that governments face in transforming into Government 3.0. “We are witnessing technological change as we have never seen before,” he said. “Take all scientists, engineers who’ve ever lived on the face of the Earth – half of them are still alive.” That’s the kind of technological advances we’re witnessing as of now.

The second challenge is not just about how to deal with technological development, but also its complexity. “Think Japan – Fukushima. First there was tsunami, which led to the collapse of the energy system, then a breakdown of the industrial system as supply chains were disturbed. We need governments to master those complex systems which underline everything we do in society,” he said.

What we need from government is innovation, which is key, he noted.  There are three things that should we expect from the government of tomorrow, he said.

First, governments need to be role models in adapting new technologies. Governments should not wait to see what others are doing. They must master new technologies and adapt new technologies in a faster way.

Second, he said, governments should be the role models in working together with all the stakeholders, especially in public-private partnerships. Through public private co-operations, governments offer faster and better technological progress.

Finally, Schwab says governments can succeed by placing the necessary emphasis on education - the key to developing the talents of tomorrow. “Going forward, education will change completely. What we need is lifelong education, education for creativity, education for innovation, minds that are entrepreneurial,” he said.

In summary, Schwab maintained that while “Government 1.0 was bureaucratic. Today, Government 2.0 is public service. In the future, we will have Government 3.0, which is entrepreneurship in public service. And that is what we should have.”