Compiled by Courtney Savie Lawrence, Prateeksha Singh UNDP Regional Innovation Centre Asia Pacific

The response to the global COVID-19 pandemic is generating an unprecedented level of response from policymakers. As Benjamin Bratton put it, “We are witnessing the largest experiment in comparative governance we are likely to see in our lifetimes. The virus is the control variable.”

Within the span of the last 90 days, nearly 1,700 economic policy announcements on COVID-19 have been made by governments and institutions.

Whilst understandably most of the attention in this phase of “forced experimentation” is focused on the immediate crisis response — some governments are seizing this movement to put forward policy measures that signal a more substantial, long term shift towards a new paradigm.

Beyond economic stimulus and recovery packages, in this post, we set out to share what we consider to be a few interesting moves toward the new possible spaces.

Rethinking the economic model-

New Green Deals and Rewiring of the Fundamentals

1- South Korea, the world’s seventh largest carbon emitter and the first country to hold a “COVID election”, has doubled down on its Green New Deal commitment and zero emissions following the vote as a way to put the economy back on track.

2- Amsterdam has become the first major municipality in the world to adopt the “doughnut economic model” ( prioritizing growth within planetary boundaries) as the frame to reset its economy.

3. Denmark, Poland and now France have decided to exclude companies based in tax heavens in their stimulus packages. Who may be next?

Safety nets, service delivery and leveraged tech-

Accelerating support at scale

4- Bangladesh assembled a new safety net for 5 million people previously excluded from government support within a span of two weeks. Within a week, India’s cash transfer program reached 204 million women who were enrolled in one of its existing financial inclusion programs.

5- Spain became the first country in Europe to roll out Universal Basic Income on a longer term basis as part of its COVID response, and so did the local government of Gyeonggi in Korea. The case for UBI as a systemic approach to tackle inequalities exacerbated by COVID19 has been made here.

Mission driven approach to innovation-

Governing as a Platform

6- Vietnam adopted an agile approach to R&D investment to galvanise different part of society and develop a low cost COVID test kit within two weeks- and now producing 10,000 export ready test kits a day.

7- South Korea made a strategic use of government procurement to guarantee bulk purchase of medical equipment (e.g. committing to purchase 50% of mask production from 130 suppliers), providing the private sector with sufficient incentives to step in and provide vital supplies.

Smart growth, smart citizens, smart urbanism-

Blueprinting resiliency

8- New Zealand became the first country to provide funding to make tactical urbanism an official government policy during the COVID19 pandemic and launched an ‘Innovating Streets for People’ fund that cities can apply to. At the local level, Bogotá and Milan also are currently experimenting with similar tactics.

9- Singapore’s government allocated USD$21 million in grant funding to accelerate domestic urban agriculture production- including the procurement of rooftop farms on public housing carparks, urban industrial areas and vacant sites.

Safeguarding humanity and protecting the (especially) vulnerable

Leaving no one behind

10- Canada allocated CAD$50 million to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres as domestic violence has surged among the COVID19 lockdowns; in similar fashion, France has increased it’s government funding support of counseling centers and will pay for up to 20,000 hotel rooms to house victims.

11- Portugal has decided to temporarily grant all migrants and asylum seekers currently in the country full citizenship rights allowing them access health care, welfare benefits, banks, rental contracts and other services during this time.

Lastly, a few other things that caught our attention-

Governmental Smart Strategies

Victoria’s Government has temporarily re-organized and “split” itself into two governments: a “rapid response government” focused on 8 COVID related missions for the next four months where Deputy Secretaries are assigned to take care of the “day to day” business.

New York State’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has started the “Reimagine New York Task Force” — “reopening the state is going to take time, and that time should be used to re-imagine what society should be”.

Germany’s government has called upon an eclectic expert group, their ‘bioethics council’, to support policy decision making with emphasized consideration for the socio-economic implications and green post-virus stages of recovery.

This list was compiled as a collaborative effort, and with thanks to Giulio Quaggiotto. Let us know your thoughts on what new responses you are seeing— you can engage the Regional Innovation Centre, Prateeksha, Courtney and Giulio.

Want to stay tuned on the latest? Take a look at our just launched “Innovation Dividend” Podcast Series, our Inclusive Innovation ‘Stories from the Field’ and stay tuned for the #NextGenGov Online Summit coming soon.

In the Asia-Pacific region, we are interpreting the renewed mandate for innovation as an opportunity to reframe: follow us and contribute as we explore