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Strategic foresight of the future — the key to making countries more prepared for future challenges

Under the Slovenian Presidency, a global conference is taking place today and tomorrow, which for the first time is discussing government governance in terms of innovation, drawing-up better legislation and improving the quality of the public sector. Slovenia, together with the OECD, presented for the first time the results of a survey on the ageing of the workforce and attracting and retaining talent.

both standing on the stage

Opening remarks: Petra Majdič, the most successful Slovenian ski runner of all time and Olympic medalist, and moderator of the conference Igor Evgen Bergant | Author Ministry of Public Administration

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The two-day conference was opened with an introductory address by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Janez Janša. “When discussing the COVID-19 pandemic, two things are important: preparedness for the situation and the level of adaptability. After a year and a half of the fight against the pandemic, we now know what our strengths are in this situation and what our shortcomings were in the beginning of this fight," Prime Minister Janša pointed out. “In the first weeks of the pandemic, Europe looked like it used to in the Middle Ages, when chaos reigned. However, immediately after the first few weeks of the epidemic, the EU realised it had to upgrade its regional and continental approach and implement a joint response. The EU's joint response to the epidemic that followed was a success story. The financial assistance to European science was very well coordinated so that vaccines, and now medications, could be developed as soon as possible, and the response regarding the recovery was also harmonised, with some countries already drawing down financial aid funds," said the Prime Minister.

He then wondered about how to ensure that our democracies become more resilient to such challenges and found the answer in the digital transition. "If all the data during the first wave had been available online, our response could have been much better, much more timely, much more targeted," stressed the Prime Minister.

Boštjan Koritnik, Minister of Public Administration, took part in the panel on strengthening the governance capacities of countries, and in his speech he highlighted the Inovativen.si. project of the Ministry of Public Administration. “In order to increase the effectiveness of future government governance, we urgently need to improve their ability to anticipate future developments in society. Slovenia has already taken the first step here. As part of the Inovativen.si project, we have begun to introduce an approach to anticipate innovation. We have addressed the challenge of an ageing workforce and attracting and retaining talent, a common concern for all European countries. I am pleased that today, together with the OECD, we were able to present the results of the survey on this issue, which concerns all EU member states," stressed the minister.

The results of the survey show that a uniform and comprehensive application of practices to treat older employees or talent in European public administrations is the exception rather than the rule. In order to develop measures in the field of talent management, it is necessary to take into account the specific features, strengths and challenges of all age groups. Staff experts and managers, who need to be properly trained in this task and cooperate with each other, play a key role in this.

As part of the two-day conference, the participants will discuss the recovery of both the public and private sectors from the COVID-19 crisis and the lessons learnt from which governments need to build if they want to achieve greater levels of citizens’ trust and improved resilience in the future. They will also present different practices on how governments are responding to the growing expectations of citizens, given that systems and the environment are becoming increasingly complex.

During the first day of the programme, the participants agreed that introducing the strategic anticipation of future events and developments is essential in policymaking, as this will enable governments to be more prepared for future challenges and provide them with a basis for proactive action. The importance of cross-border cooperation between governments in applying forward-looking approaches to strengthen social cohesion and democracy at the global level and the creation of investments to help EU member states acquire competences to meet current and future challenges was underlined.

The conference, organised by the Ministry of Public Administration together with the Observatory of the Public Sector Innovation (OPSI OECD) and the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA), is being attended by more than 1,700 participants from all over the world. The event also includes world-renowned experts from the public, private and academic spheres, such as: Petra Majdič, the most successful Slovenian ski runner of all time and Olympic medalist, Mathias Cormann, OECD Secretary-General and Marco Ongaro, Director-General of the EIPA.