The COVID-19 pandemic has questioned the capacities of our governing institutions, at all layers of governance (from supranational to national, regional and local) to combine an agile crisis management with an enduring commitment to go on deploying and implementing key strategic policies aiming at a better sustainability of our societies, economies and polities. The successive or concomitant “poly-crises” of our times (financial crashes, viral pandemics, uncontrolled migrations, rapid climate change, related natural disasters, social protests and disruptions, terrorist attacks and more conventional armed conflicts, etc.) show that legitimate governing institutions supported by well-functioning public administrations and effective governance frameworks and processes, as well as a better preparedness of all these institutional actors preconditions to respond appropriately to crises. In that regard, the recent crises have revealed some strengths, but also many weaknesses and even failures, of our governing systems. Therefore, the citizens’ trust in the governmental capacities to respond to crises and to pave the way for a desirable post-crisis future are questioned. These are, among others, very challenging issues for our EGPA community of European scholars, and practitioners, specialized in public administration considered as a scientific discipline and as a professional craft.
In 2021, at our EGPA Brussels Conference, we focused on Resilience and Agility of Public Institutions to respond to crisis and to enforce rescue plans and emergency strategies. This year in Lisbon, we want to address the recovery aspects and to look forward to sustainable development. We will especially consider the role and contribution of Public Administration, in the post-COVID, ‘new normal’ period, to preparing a sustainable future for all our citizens in general, and to ensuring an effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations. Some major questions in that regard are: How to ensure the quality of a Public Administration fit for recovery and transition? How to enhance the performance of Public Administration in translating long-term priorities into daily practices and so respond to the real needs and problems of our societies and foster our transition to a sustainable future? How to develop and lead administrative and governance transformations which successfully implement the ‘five Ps strategy’: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnerships?
At EGPA 2022 Conference, we will also address how the goal of sustainability is changing the transdisciplinary, cross-faculty framework for studying public policy issues with interacting cultural, ethical, political, social, legal, economic, technological, and natural science elements at all layers of governance (EU, national, regional and local levels) and across policy sectors, as well as engaging with civil society and interested stakeholders in these new policy processes oriented towards the SDGs. It raises the practical issue of developing much better inter-institutional, cross-sectors and multi-level policy coordination. The approaches in terms of ‘whole-of-government’ and ‘whole-of-society’ collaborations are crucial to consider in that matter. If we really want to achieve the SDGs within a reasonable timeframe, a much richer and result-oriented cooperation between all State and non-State actors, at all layers of governance (global, regional, national, sub-national), in all spheres (politics, science and technology, economy, etc.), and across various sectors (energy, transportation, climate action, environmental protection, education, food, etc.) will be essential. In that regard, ‘markets’ and ‘networks’ cannot succeed in bringing our societies, and our planet, towards its future without the major ‘hierarchical’ contribution of the governments and public administration of our Neo-Weberian States.
In addition, we would also like to explore the ways and means to stimulate all public, third sector and private stakeholders to work much harder together and engage more and more people into collective efforts to address the overarching challenges of sustainability and social inclusion that embrace the SDGs. Indeed, it is evident that the sustainability ‘battle’ cannot be won without our citizens and their free associations: from information to consultation, participation to empowerment and co-creation, and then interactive implementation and ongoing participative evaluation, citizens shall be actively associated at all the stages of the policy processes of our strategies for a sustainable future.
During the EGPA 2022 Conference plenary sessions and panels will be organised
around the following themes:
1. PA Efficiency dilemmas for sustainability
-a. What are critical European and global dilemmas for sustainability today?
-b. What is the role of the Public Administration in shaping a response?
-c. How can we work together across different levels of Public Administration to improve sustainability?
2. Educational skills and competencies on sustainability
-a. World trends in education for sustainable development
-b. What are the essential and emerging competencies to promote sustainability?
-c. Research outputs and findings that contribute to knowledge of sustainability
- d. What are the drivers and barriers to undertaking education and community engagement for sustainability?
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