Supporting global change through technology

Today’s global leaders continue to struggle with major problems, from health care after a pandemic and economic recovery to the energy transition. How can governments and industries take advantage of technology to support global change? Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Executive Chairman of the Tony Blair Institute, gave the final keynote address at the Asia Tech x Singapore Summit on 2 June 2022.

The technological revolution is changing everything. Mr Blair said it was the hardest thing for the government and politicians to deal with. For example, how does one work to use it for the public good? There are several dimensions. The question he asks is “How to better engage with government and citizens. How to transform public services? How to build the right digital infrastructure? How do you help businesses use digital technologies as well?” The biggest challenge for government politicians is to understand the scale of this revolution and the different dimensions and how to use it.

One interesting thing he noted is that there are a generation of younger ministers who understand technology, who have grown up using technology and feel much more comfortable in the world of technology. Then there is my generation of leaders who are at an older level who still have a hard time. I’m still coming in and talking here or somewhere else in the world, where I’m going to tell a group of politicians: you know, this technology revolution is important. I still think that the biggest challenge is to bring politicians and change makers together in the same room, because there are virtually unlimited amounts of transformation that technology can bring. But you need to understand it before you can use it. One of the things that is very difficult for politicians is that the world is changing very fast, but the only part of the world that doesn’t change often is the government. “

The work of his institute is based on this theory that if you look at the world today, the difference between countries that succeed and those that fail is the quality of governance, because everything else is mobile. Technology is mobile. Capital is mobile. “The thing that is not mobile is your government,” Blair said. “You can take two countries side by side, the same population, approximately the same resource potential, approximately the same land, approximately one succeeds, one fails. The differences are in the management. One of the reasons I have been coming to Singapore for many years is that I think this is a compelling example of why governance today should not be about ideology, but about understanding the world and then finding practical solutions. of problems. And what hinders whether technology or something else is evolving is bad politics leads to bad politics. It is almost always because people start with an ideological predisposition. It could be left to right, or it could be religion, or it could be race. Whatever it is, it hinders a decent decision – making. “

In each part of the government, Blair emphasized that there were lessons to be learned. Number one is the lack of corruption, because corruption is the enemy of progress everywhere and everywhere. Number two, the rule of law, with predictable rules. Number three, an education system that seeks to educate and develop the country’s human capital. Number 4 makes sure the government has a set of skills. If Blair were in government again today, he said he would break many of the silos between the public and private sectors. “I don’t think you can really take advantage of this technological opportunity unless you have people who understand it coming to government,” Blair said.

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They focus their work at the Institute on equipping leaders across Asia to implement ambitious transformation programs using the power of technology in the digital age. One example is to take stock of the transformation of digital government and to introduce a participatory approach to addressing shortcomings and maximizing concert opportunities.

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