Liis Kasemets - So Many Countries Are Searching for Solutions for Quite Similar Problems

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Sep 22, 2017
by Nicole Bogart and Oscar Tollast
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Liis Kasemets - So Many Countries Are Searching for Solutions for Quite Similar Problems

Senior advisor on governance at the Government Office of Estonia discusses the digital solutions the Baltic nation is applying to its public sector challenges – and what others can learn from them Liis Kasemets on the Schloss Terrace during the sixth meeting of the Public Sector Strategy Round Table

When it comes to good governance, Estonia is often held up as an innovative example for other countries to follow. As the e-estonia.com government website declares: “We have built a digital society and so can you.” So it was natural choice that a public sector representative of the small Baltic country be invited to take part in the sixth Public Sector Strategy Round TableIn the Spotlight: How Can the Public Sector Excel Under Changing Dynamics?

That representative was Liis Kasemets, the senior advisor on governance at the Government Office of Estonia. As part of a team, she is responsible for developing and coordinating the system and principles of good governance in the government decision-making process, fostering the quality and openness of policy-making, and encouraging civic engagement and regulatory impact assessment. She said, “Our task is to translate the political agenda into an actionable government program which means that we have to cover quite a lot of issues and try to take into account the longer perspective as well.”

Her main focus, however, is fostering good governance, which includes raising the standard of the policymaking process. She said, “This also [concerns] the broader and longer perspectives, as well as the everyday workings of the government. [This involves] institutionalizing or rooting deeper into everyday workings of the government: the impact analysis, the good engagement practices, and instituting it well into the government decision-making process.” Hearing what other participants had said about long-term issues piqued her interest.

The feeling has been mutual, with other participants equally interested to hear about Estonia’s experiences and its growing reputation for efficiency when it comes to practices in e-governance. Discussing its origins, Kasemets said, “It was, in the beginning, quite a conscious political choice to go along with it. One of the reasons behind it was that we saw a great efficiency gain in that – time-wise and in financial terms. Also, while we do it, we can see greater transparency and openness for the citizen. In this sense, we kind of gain two things at the same time. So, maybe this is one of the reasons why we have stuck to that, trying to develop it further.”

Kasemets said as Estonia’s population is lower than others, the government has been able to interlink and keep the citizens at the center of the work which takes place. She said, “Of course, this remains to be judged by the citizens whether we are good at it or not, but this is something we would strive for. Maybe this is one of the reasons behind this e-governance as well.”

Despite this openness and transparency, Kasemets highlighted a few challenges the government is facing. She said, “One of the main things is that we have a population that is aging and decreasing… Our working population is annually decreasing by one percent. This is quite a noticeable decrease. This is one of the main challenges of how to create a better tomorrow for our citizens. We also have to look at the economy and the prospects for people to really have fulfilling lives to uplift their well-being continuously.” In order to provide good opportunities for its citizens and attract new ideas, Kasemets suggested the Estonian government has to keep up with the pace of development.

During the two-day program, there was an opportunity for a free flow of ideas from people with different backgrounds, a positive outcome noted by many of the participants, including Kasemets. She said, “I think that when you put into a session people with so different backgrounds and so different experiences, this is where we can create innovative or new solutions to the things that we seek solutions for.

“At the moment, globally, so many countries are searching for solutions for quite similar problems. We’re all tackling the same things but how can we do it better. This vibrant environment is very good to seek out whether we can find some of the solutions we can try out.”


Liis Kasemets attended the sixth meeting of the Public Sector Strategy Round Table – “In the Spotlight: How Can the Public Sector Excel Under Changing Dynamics?”. This meeting was convened by Salzburg Global Seminar in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court and apolitical, and with the support of Chatham House. More information on the session can be found here.

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