To respond to crises, governments need effective, accountable and inclusive institutions

young professionals walking outside of an Central Asian bank young professionals walking outside of an Central Asian bank

What does it take to have access to clean water? Or a constant supply of electricity?

Depending on where you are in the world – the answer to these questions could be “not much” or “a lot”. Even in normal times, access to these basic services is a challenge in some countries. During a crisis, it can be much harder. Effective, accountable and inclusive institutions are an essential part of the solution.

The COVID-19 pandemic has acted as a major stress test of governments everywhere. Governments with strong institutions and high levels of public trust proved to be more resilient during the pandemic. They were able to continue providing basic services with limited interruption, manage multiple institutions in a coordinated way, deploy resources effectively, procure and roll out vaccinations in a transparent manner, and deal with new types of citizen concerns, while avoiding waste and corruption.

According to the Spring 2021 Europe and Central Asia Economic Update, government expenditures in the region are close to 40 percent of gross domestic product  and the public sector accounts for nearly 27 percent of total employment, which is almost twice the global average. The significant role of government underscores the importance of the quality of public sector governance in enabling productivity growth and responding to ECA’s economic and social challenges.

This is why the Europe and Central Asia Governance team convened a conference in July 2019 that brought together over 500 participants from government, international development partners, academia, the private sector and civil society to discuss key governance and institutional challenges and opportunities across the region.

The discussions from the conference are available in Building Effective, Accountable and Inclusive Institutions in Europe and Central Asia, a book that describes what it takes to build trustworthy and effective institutions and documents success stories. It also acknowledges challenges and the lessons learned and provides practical examples and approaches that can be emulated in other countries.

The book demonstrates how governance problems can hamper the development of countries in the region and explores how governance and institutions play a key role in building economies and delivering quality public services. It provides critical insights with new evidence of the urgent need for government responses.

The book, which was disseminated globally and had 1.75 million downloads, was initially available in English, Russian, Turkish and Serbian. It is now available in Croatian and Spanish with a French translation soon to come. It has six chapters focused on the following themes:  

  • Strengthening Public Policy Processes
  • Managing Public Resources Effectively
  • Governance of Service Delivery
  • Public-Private Collaboration and Economic Governance
  • Drivers and Enablers of Policy Effectiveness
  • The Promise of GovTech

Each theme has case studies which highlight success stories. They include the use of gender-responsive budgeting as a basis for policy formulation in Albania, a three-step process for government planning focused on prioritization, leadership, and ownership in Lithuania, a shared administrative services program to simplify and improve efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and timeliness in the delivery of public administrative services in Bulgaria, and modernizing public services through GovTech to improve access, efficiency and quality of service provision to citizens and business in Moldova.

The book describes some of the critical elements that are needed to build (and sustain) strong institutions so that every person, across the globe, can have access to clean water and stable electricity.  COVID-19 has made clear why good governance and effective institutions matter. The pandemic has forced governments to determine what is really important to continue delivering for citizens and improve institutional performance. It is a never-ending process that needs to keep pace with evolving demands, technologies and contexts.

Moving from crisis to opportunity to resilience will require mastering the basics to strengthen good governance. The divide between countries that have strong institutions and those that do not may be widening, but Building Effective, Accountable and Inclusive Institutions in Europe and Central Asia seeks to close that gap.  The consistent cross-fertilization of lessons, innovations and approaches can help to incentivize reforms and identify opportunities to further strengthen institutions.

For more information, visit:


Daniel Boyce

Daniel Boyce, Practice Manager, Governance Global Practice, Europe and Central Asia, World Bank (East)

Roby Senderowitsch

Practice Manager for Public Administration, Governance Global Practice, World Bank

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