Past Program


Governments worldwide are under pressure to meet complex needs as populations age, countries urbanize, and technology transforms lives and work. They have lead responsibility to prepare their societies for a radically changing world, yet face shrinking budgets and declining trust in the public sector.

The machinery of government has changed, requiring governments to transform themselves, both in terms of the methodology they use and the people needed to implement the change.  What is the role of government in driving innovation?  How can countries and cities learn from each other?  How can governments recruit and retain the best people in public service with the right skills?  How can governments better harness the market, and strengthen constructive partnerships with civil society and the private sector?  What types of public communication work best to rebuild public trust?

The Public Sector Strategy Network was created at a high-level Round Table in Salzburg in June 2017 to provide a dynamic platform for practical collaboration and impact, using its convening power to connect governments and innovators leading the way to meet the opportunities and challenges ahead.

This year’s meeting will bring together senior officials from governments and multilateral institutions to support interactive debate and hands-on problem-solving under the Chatham House Rule.  It provides a rare opportunity for officials to engage informally with a select group of dynamic peers, away from media and gatekeepers.  They can test out ideas for immediate follow-up at the technical level to generate impact for individuals, institutions, and ideas when they return to their own countries. Government representatives already active in the Network have benefited from being able to exchange visits after the high-level meeting in order to continue to share cross-border experience and expand their knowledge base to better implement domestic agendas.

Network Goals

This multi-year initiative was launched as an annual high-level Round Table by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court in 2010. Beginning in 2017, Salzburg Global Seminar is the politically and geographically neutral convener of what has grown into the Public Sector Strategy Network.  The Network aims to build a mutually-supportive coalition of engaged individuals and institutions that are better equipped to be at the cutting edge of public sector strategy, innovation and forward planning as a result of this engagement. It has four goals:

1. Facilitate active ongoing peer-to-peer learning under the values of trust and open exchange, sharing best practices and lessons learned from system failure and recovery;

2. Help senior leaders and rising talents in government reimagine the design, delivery and funding of core services and develop more effective partnerships and communication with citizens, civil society and business;

3. Support “intrapreneurship” within public sector culture and recruitment through new ways to redeploy, reskill, and reorganize people and operations; and

4. Optimize cross-sector government innovation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.


Network Design and Activities

The Network combines an annual invitation-only retreat at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, with year-round opportunities to exchange on specific topics. Each Salzburg meeting connects expertise across sectors and regions to address long term macro trends and immediate priorities, bringing together a group of around 30 participants:

• 15-18 current or recent ministers, cabinet secretaries, similar ranking senior officials or rising stars from priority countries recognized as leaders in public sector innovation;

• 5-6 disruptors and resource experts at the leading edge of technology, finance, communications, behavioral science, academia, philanthropy, and civil society;

• 3-4 city leaders, representing mayors or senior officials from cities in priority countries;

• 2-3 Network multipliers, representing top public service training institutions/networks and possibly business schools. Building on outcomes from the Salzburg Global meetings, the Network will develop ongoing activities tailored to members' inputs and domestic agendas for demonstrable and sustainable results and track the impact of continuous peer-to-peer learning in the public sector.


Network Impact and Growth

The Network's top priorities are to:

• Connect outstanding leaders in public sector strategy who can most benefit from membership and will thus play an active but manageable role in developing the Network;

• Create opportunities for members to pool their insights and tap into each other's expertise, ensuring that in-person meetings can be deeper and more reflective;

• Give practical support to members through themed online events, thought leadership (articles, op-eds), external resource experts, and online communication channels.


Network Ownership and Commitment

The Network is based on the rationale that one of the most valuable resources for public sector leaders is to meet on equal terms with world-class peers from different places and have frank conversations with top innovators.

This potential can only be realized if Network members invest in joint learning through their participation and contributions. Members will have flexibility on how they are able to contribute, depending on their circumstances, but in broad terms will be expected to:

• Attend the annual Salzburg retreat where possible

• Be willing to run or contribute to meeting components

• Provide feedback to help organizers set the Network’s agenda from year to year

• Optional but preferred: contribute one to two set pieces each year outside of the Salzburg retreat. These could take different forms e.g. speaking at an online session, writing a short op-ed.

The Network organizers will structure these contributions and views in a way to benefit the entire group, set up engagement opportunities with each other and experts, and invite members to other opportunities valuable for their work.


Photos and Video

View full set on Flickr

All images are available for download. Please credit Salzburg Global Seminar/Ela Grieshaber. Unwatermarked images are available on request.




Rabih Abouchakra
Founder and Managing Director, Office of Strategic Affairs, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, UAE
Tiago Antunes
Secretary of State, Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Portugal
Marcos Bonturi
Director of Public Governance, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Vincent Chriqui
Project Manager, Ministry of Finance, France
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
Steve Groff
Vice-President, Asian Development Bank
Mona Hammami
Senior Director, Office of Strategic Affairs, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, UAE
Olli-Pekka Heinonen
Director General, National Agency for Education, Finland
Josh Lowe
Lead Reporter, Apolitical, United Kingdom
Julian McCrae
Senior Fellow, Institute for Government, United Kingdom
Liz McKeown
Director, Public Policy Analysis, Office for National Statistics, United Kingdom
Lars Østergaard
Senior Advisor and Deputy Head of Division, Ministry of Finance, Denmark
Tareq Mana S. Al Otaiba
Project Manager, Office of Strategic Affairs, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, UAE
Martin Parkinson
Secretary, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australia
Carlos Santiso
Division Chief, Innovation in Citizen Services, Inter-American Development Bank
Fiona Paua Schwab
Senior Adviser, Office of Strategic Affairs, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, UAE
Renaud Seligmann
Practice Manager, Governance Global Practice (Middle East and North Africa Region), World Bank
Clare Shine
Vice President and Chief Program Officer, Salzburg Global Seminar
Philip Sinclair
Fellow, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Josée Touchette
Executive Director, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Shinichi Ueyama
Chief Executive Advisor, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Japan
Robert Watt
Secretary-General, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Ireland
Lisa Witter
Co-Founder, Executive Chairman, Apolitical, Germany/USA