Past Program

Oct 03 - Oct 05, 2016

Future of Public Service: Program Strategy Meeting


Familiar public services and institutions are in the early stage of radical renewal that may render them unrecognizable by 2050. New technologies and societal transformation are reconfiguring the interdependent world at unprecedented speed. New concepts and demands for more flexible and dynamic public service are emerging at all levels, from 'megapolitan' cities to supranational organizations.

Catalyzed by social media, vibrant transnational networks and shrinking public budgets, citizens and communities are increasingly questioning the organizing structures of societies. There is a widespread loss of trust in the ability of public officials, institutions and 'elites' to act collectively, rapidly and effectively, and growing concern within many public structures struggling to adapt to 21st century realities. Meanwhile, citizens have vastly expanded the ways they can influence change, blurring the lines between individuals and organizations. Accessibility of information has flipped expectations from top-down centralized delivery to bottom-up customized engagement. What does this mean for traditional approaches to a defined public sector i.e., government as distinct from business, civil society, social and religious communities? Are public services of the future trapped in a straitjacket?

Cities are already pointing the way to the public service revolution as they forge new networks and alliances with each other and with non-state actors. By mid-century, over two-thirds of the world's population will live in mega-cities with nearly 90 percent of that increase taking place across Asia and Africa. The sheer speed of formal and informal urbanization escalates demand for new infrastructure housing, education, jobs, social protection policies, public health and safe food and water which outstrips available public finance. The way cities and local governments innovate to meet these complex demands will determine the competitiveness, cohesion, and security not only of those jurisdictions but also of countries and transnational regions. Will this overturn the public service education and research's traditional concentration on national-level policy and administration? Can cities demonstrate practical strategies on fundamental problems that have eluded the nation state and multilateral organizations?

There is a compelling business case to target cities as a laboratory for innovation in government performance, paving the way for greater youth engagement and upscaling to strengthen national, regional, and global relationships. The Salzburg Global Forum on the Future of Public Service connected partner institutions seeking to lead transformation at scale with innovators across a network of visionary city hubs.

Multi-Year Series

Salzburg Global Forum on  the Future Of Public Service

Rather than adapting public service to the incremental changes emerging daily, this multi-year Forum will unite leading institutional change-makers from six continents - from the public, private and civil society sectors and at local, national, and multilateral levels - to leap ahead and imagine backwards to create the public service of the future today.

Through modeling scenarios and role playing, combined with focused and coordinated implementation of pilot projects in 10-12 visionary hub cities across the globe, the Forum will prioritize systems challenges for innovative connection across sectors, scales, and geographies.

Partnerships with public service and other training institutions will support new curricula and practical collaborations, shaping professional education to meet future needs and motivating a new generation committed to public service innovation.

Goals of the Forum

The Salzburg Global Forum on the Future of Public Service aims to create a leadership and action platform to:

  • Identify future challenges and opportunities for public service, and ways to anticipate them
  • Empower leading partner institutions and dynamic innovators from visionary city hubs to test future scenarios and implement creative solutions
  • Redefine the locus of effective public service, looking holistically across sectors (including health, environment, finance, education), institutions (including public, business, civil society, religion), and geographies (megapolitan regions and their relationship with nation states, regional and global multilateral organizations, and each other)
  • Build understanding of how social engagement and new technologies can fit into open government strategies and become an important tool to extend and re-energize democracy
  • Provide unique peer-to-peer exchange across disciplines, regions, cultures, and generations for rapid interchange and shared coordinated experiences
  • Increase impact through sharing ground-breaking ideas, data, lessons learned, and case studies with a broader virtual community of partners.

What are the Forum's city hubs?

The 10-12 hubs are specially-selected cities that commit to engage with the Forum over ten years.  Each hub city will send a new group of public service innovators to the Forum each year, building a talented cohort that bridges public, private, and civil society sectors. Over the Forum’s duration, they will provide an exceptional cross-sector resource for others in their home cities, their countries, and in trans-national networks.

These participants will become the catalysts for sustained implementation of projects defined for each hub, closely coordinated with local governments and relevant public service training institutions.  From there, new ideas can radiate from each hub to wider audiences, gaining support to roadtest pilot innovations. Self-organized peer mentoring, workshops, and public events can demonstrate the multiplier benefits of the networking and learning generated in Salzburg.

This city hub approach, frequently utilized by Salzburg Global Seminar, draws on the talent and experience in the Salzburg Global Fellowship, which numbers over 30,000 members in nearly 170 countries. Several on-going multi-year programs are implemented through a distributed network of city hubs to build a pipeline of motivated human capital and enhance sustainability of program results. The Fellowship also provides cross-cutting leadership to maintain momentum and expand opportunities for cross-border and cross-sector exchange and learning on equal terms.

Format and Goals of the Planning Meeting

In October 2016, Salzburg Global convened experts who share this vision to shape the Forum's design, operations, and priorities. Participants included governmental and multilateral bodies, development organizations, technology and communications specialists, public administration training institutes, private sector partners and entrepreneurs. High-ranking officials from the Forum's initial hub cities will play a pivotal role to ensure relevance and compatibility. Through plenary and group work sessions, the 2016 meeting seeked to:

  1. Establish the international network of partner institutions and resource experts
  2. Highlight opportunities and emerging dynamics affecting governance and inter-connectivity and local, national, regional, and global levels;
  3. Prioritize long-term program focal areas and themes;
  4. Frame immediate key questions for 2017-2019;
  5. Facilitate rapid development of the city hub network, ensuring local ownership, and explore options for year-round cooperation and exchanges among and between hubs;
  6. Set criteria for selecting participants in annual Salzburg meetings of the Forum.

Session Brochure

You can download the session brochure here.

Partnership Overview

The Forum’s focused and coordinated activities will allow for monitoring, immediate and on-going impact assessment, and improved results on the ground as measured through public engagement and public satisfaction assessments.

Further benefits to partners can be found in the Partnership Overview, which you can download here.

Forum Director

For more detailed information please contact the Forum Director, Charles Ehrlich (

Confirmed Participants

Mohammad Absi Halabi
Strategic Development Advisor, Executive Council, Government of Dubai, UAE
Ibrahim Al Mannaee
Senior Manager, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, UAE
Zarqaa Al Yamama Al Nuaimi
Analyst, Strategy Management & Governance Sector, Executive Council of Dubai, UAE
Shabbir Cheema
Director, Asia-Pacific Governance and Democracy Initiative, East-West Center, USA
Cynthia Cherrey
President & CEO, International Leadership Association, USA
Kevin Desouza
Foundation Professor, School of Public Affairs, Arizona State University, USA
Charles Ehrlich
Program Director, Salzburg Global Seminar
Gabriella Gómez-Mont Valpeoz
Founder, Laboratorio para la Ciudad, Mexico City, Mexico
Mona Hammami
Senior Director, Office of Strategic Affairs, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, UAE
Jonathan Koppell
Dean, College of Public Service & Community Solutions, Arizona State University, USA
Jarno Laur
Deputy Mayor, City of Tartu, Estonia
Seung-Joo Lee
Professor of Public Policy and Management, Korea Development Institute, Korea
Iñigo Mariscal
General Director of Marhnos, Mexico
Arbjan Mazniku
Deputy Mayor, City of Tirana, Albania
Katrin Nyman-Metcalf
Adjunct Professor, Tallinn University of Technology; Programme Director for Research and Legal Matters, e-Governance Academy; Chair, International Relations Committee, European Space Agency, Estonia
Kristina Reinsalu
Head of e-Democracy, e-Governance Academy, Estonia
Pierre Schoonraad
Head of Research and Development, Centre for Public Service Innovation, South Africa
Lee Sheehy
Director of Region and Communities Program, McKnight Foundation, USA
Clare Shine
Vice President and Chief Program Officer, Salzburg Global Seminar
Kristin Stubbins
Strategy and Markets Leader - Assurance, PWC Australia; and Chair GAP Sydney as a Global Innovation Hub Taskforce, Australia
Young-dae You
Program Manager, Capacity Building Center, Korea Development Institute, Korea
Edward Zuercher
City Manager, City of Phoenix, USA