This year’s theme, “Bouncing Back Together:Innovating Governance for the New Normal”, or in Filipino, “Makabagong Pamamahala para sa Sama-samang Pagbangon sa New Normal”, highlights the importance of innovating governance across all sectors of society to steer the country toward the path of renewed growth and dynamism.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call, especially for the government, to shift to a new brand of governance to be truly responsive to the needs of the time. The pandemic has put to the test the government’s capacity to deal with major crises. It has also exposed major structural and governance gaps. Among these gaps include the lack of coordination and synergy between and among various levels of government; the lack of protocols or manual of operation to deal with similar crisis; weak and outdated information systems; and the lack of technically capable workforce in the public sector.
To effectively lead the country in mitigating the pandemic's adverse impacts and face other challenges such as the perennial threat of climate change and food insecurity, the government should transform itself into one that is agile and innovative. It must create an environment conducive to learning and innovation by addressing institutional, coordination, and infrastructural issues. It must strengthen the capacities of the civil service through continuous professional development, establishment of a reward and incentive system that emphasizes productivity and innovation, and use of digital, smart systems for more efficient service delivery. It must enhance human capital formation through more efficient access to healthcare services, broad-based access to quality education, and effective social protection systems. It must also address coordination failures between and among government agencies and foster harmony and synergy of efforts with other development actors and stakeholders.
The business sector also needs to reshape itself, given a more uncertain and competitive environment. Firms need to revisit their business strategies, structures, and processes, and aim for organizational agility and resilience.
Meanwhile, the academe needs to be more innovative in its approaches to sustain education delivery in the new normal. Flexible learning options are necessary to enable students to continue their education. The curriculum should incorporate both cognitive and socioemotional skills development to be aligned with the competencies needed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Civil society also needs to enhance its role in reaching out to sectors that usually do not have access to government channels.
Citizens have to embrace new ways of doing things—in terms of working and socializing—and do their part in helping the country bounce back in the new normal. They need to be adaptive and innovative to remain competitive and employable and to thrive amid loss of income and increasing unemployment. They must have an entrepreneurial mindset and the initiative to upskill themselves.
Innovating governance across all sectors of society is a must to bounce back in the new normal.
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