job losses four times greater than during the global financial crisis in 2009. The latest analysis by Edelman Trust Barometer, the longest-running global trust survey, concludes that the pandemic has accelerated the erosion of trust and indicates “an epidemic of misinformation and widespread mistrust of societal institutions and leaders around the world”.and led to
Although most major economies saw an initial uptick in trust, once the virus started spreading and people turned to their leaders for guidance, the gains quickly dissipated due to poor leadership. People rejected the ‘talking heads’ who they deemed not credible. In fact, none of the leaders the Edelman Trust Barometer tracks – government officials, CEOs, journalists, or religious figures – are trusted to do what is right. We are certainly facing a crisis of confidence.
Downstream from distrust
Recently, Shell was taken to court by Dutch citizens and has now been ordered to cut its CO2 emissions by 45 percent to 2019 levels. This is the first time a company has been legally obliged to align its policies with the Paris climate accord. Third, people protest. More people are hitting the streets than ever before.
The social contract needs to be rebuilt
The first step is to genuinely start committing time and resources to participatory forms of decision-making. It is not a novel idea, but it could be genuinely transformative. In addition to bringing people around the table, it is necessary to benchmark results against inclusion goals.
In Porto Alegre, Brazil, a 10-year experiment in effective participatory budgeting allowed large numbers of people, predominantly socially excluded groups, to determine whether to prioritize city funding for education, water, sanitation, or healthcare and they achieved striking outcomes. First, the provision of city services, previously concentrated in richer areas, became much more accessible in lower-income neighborhoods. Another positive outcome was the decline in partisan politics – people became more interested in the actual issues. Third, transparent decision-making helped to reduce corruption as the provision of city contracts no longer took place between the guarded city elites and contractors.
This is particularly important for the informal economy where most people live, work, and trade. Governments should manage the competing demands of the public and private sector by taking responsibility as regulators seriously.
International development organizations, such as the World Bank, would benefit from continuing to engage with a wide spectrum of stakeholders to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.
If you want to hear more from Kumi, you can watch a replay of the Disruptive Debate here. You can contribute to the conversation about the Future of Government via Twitter @wbg_gov using the hashtag #FutureofGovernment or via our website at www.worldbank.org/futureofgovernment or simply leave a comment below.
Blogs in the Future of Government series
- Starting a conversation about the future of governments post coronavirus by Ed Olowo-Okere | May 27, 2020
- Introducing the Future of Government Initiative’s Debate Series by Ed Olowo-Okere | May 11, 2021
- Understanding what people want from their leaders: the first Future of Government Disruptive Debate, event recap by Donna Andrews, Tim Williamson, & Jacques Rosenberg | May 29, 2021
- What the demands on and future objectives of government mean to me by President Laura Chinchilla Miranda | May 29, 2021
- How will the role of government change after the pandemic? Event recap by Donna Andrews, Tim Williamson, & Marje Aksli | June 25, 2021
- How officials can do better at delivering services to citizens, event recap by Alasdair Fraser, Donna Andrews, & Tim Williamson | November 3, 2021
- How to increase government productivity in the post-COVID-19 world, event recap by Jacques Rosenberg, Donna Andrews, & Tim Williamson | November 4, 2021