OECD showcases cross-border collaboration in new report

By on 20/10/2021 | Updated on 20/10/2021

While the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the lack of preparedness among governments to tackle global challenges and has exposed weaknesses in international cooperation, there are promising examples of cross-border innovation, according to a new report from the OECD.

The report explores how governments are embracing new governance mechanisms to tackle cross-border issues through collaboration. The 57-page document, Achieving Cross-Border Government Innovation, was produced by the OECD’s Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation (MBRCGI). It was published on 19 October and is the first in a series of three.

The report said the COVID-19 crisis had shown that governments can rapidly and radically transform to meet shifting needs, but it also highlighted a lack of the coordination needed to address global challenges.

“Major challenges such as COVID-19 and others like climate change are not limited by jurisdictional borders, and demand collective action across countries and policy fronts,” the report states.

“Collaboration among governments on these and other issues has many precedents… and these efforts continue to yield tremendous public value. However, the current context calls for exploring innovative approaches that may yield lessons and new ways of doing things for which the full potential has yet to be realised.”

It noted that public sector innovation efforts are largely confined to the borders of a single country or jurisdiction and that the cross-border innovations that do exist tend to be in their infancy.

Innovation station

The report focuses on three key areas: building cross-border governance bodies; innovative networks tackling cross-border collaboration; and exploring emerging governance system dynamics. Each features a case study selected from over 235 cross-border initiatives identified through research and the OPSI and MBRCGI’s annual ‘call for innovations’. 

The first case study is Kvarken Council, a cross-border body with representatives from Finland and Sweden. The Kvarken region has a long history of shared culture and common language, and the council brings all its interests together to stimulate economic development and attract inward investment. Kvarken is also one of the biggest Nordic green energy clusters and the council aims to work collaboratively with partners of all sizes to ensure the region can fulfil its potential.

The second details the work of the Open European Dialogue, which brings together MPs from across the political spectrum to discuss common policy issues and challenges, and it focuses on the human-centred process design.

And the third features the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal which, having amassed £450m (US$621m) in joint funding, aims to achieve long-term sustainable prosperity for people, places, and businesses in the region around the UK’s England/Scotland border.

A collective effort

“Today’s challenges extend beyond borders as much as they cross borders,” Alexander Stubb, Finland’s former prime minister and now director of the School of Transnational Governance, wrote in the report’s foreword. “For this reason, governance should be understood as a collective effort. Decision making is not the sole purview of the government, the civil service, academia, media, civil society, or corporations. It is a collective endeavour. Once we admit this, we can begin to address the challenges of transnational governance.”

The report’s five recommendations comprise securing advocacy from the highest levels of government; involving all stakeholders in establishing a clear vision and strategy for cross-border collaboration; ensuring structural enablers are in place; sharing costs and benefits related to collaboration but being aware that benefits may take time to be realised and may not be distributed equally; and building trust by creating strong relationships over time.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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