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Article December 4th, 2023

by Nortal

“Waste not, want not”: Govtech equips the public sector for a sustainable future

Past 20 years is a story of rapid digitalization—and despite government’s stubbornness to remain an outlier, that transition has come for the public sector too. Rather than fighting it, government should embrace new govtech solutions. The small Baltic state of Estonia has led the way on this transition with their model of a “personal state,” which centers digitalization and participatory citizenship.

But the Estonian personal state isn’t just redefining governance—it’s also setting a precedent for a sustainable future. Estonia’s theory of the “personal state” is more than just a rallying cry for participatory citizenship; it’s also a path to greener living.

As environmental sustainability becomes a global concern, the public sector cannot be caught on the back foot. It’s well past time for governments to follow the private sector and begin investing in digital, green society. Estonia provides a viable path.

Woman standing in Tallinn old town

Govtech: The key to green, people-centric service

Part of the delay in the public sector’s green shift might have been due to a lack of viable technological solutions. However, government cannot keep resting on that excuse—Estonia has proved that we have the tools now for the public sector to join in the digital revolution.

So much of public service administration is labyrinthine paper-pushing. This presents a threefold frustration:

  • Reams of paperwork contribute to environmental degradation.
  • A paper-first mindset traps other government services in wasteful legacy positions. If society is run on disparate stacks of forms, one cannot unify services into a coherent whole.
  • Redundant information collection and delayed service delivery due to this unending paperwork infuriates taxpaying citizens who must jump through endless hoops to access their owed services.

The Estonian “personal state” aims to address all three of these issues at once. By employing new govtech solutions that cut through unnecessary bureaucracy and centralize the state in the palm of each citizen’s hand. Whether it’s through cutting back on paperwork or using predictive AI to allocate services according to individual needs, the personalized state employs a “waste not, want not” philosophy that makes life easier, fairer, and greener for everyone. Let’s unpack some of the ways Estonia’s personalized state model greens and streamlines public service delivery for citizens.

abstract lines flowing

Webinar: Post-digital personal government and the future of interoperability

The full realization of the possibilities of public services in the era of personal government requires the adoption of emerging technologies and the reorganization of the government’s working principles in terms of service provision and cooperation between institutions. Achieving high cooperation, enabled by interoperability and a whole-of-society approach to service delivery, is essential.

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Paperless transactions and documentation

Estonia’s paperless pivot actively minimizes waste and reduces environmental impact—saving citizens from bureaucratic nightmares as well. Opting for paperless solutions enhances efficiency: rather than inputting the same information over and over on different forms per service, citizen information is retained in a central, easy-to-update digital system.

In the same way this saves the average citizen stress, it also alleviates environmental stress by cutting back on paperwork. In perhaps the simplest, most visible way, the personal digital state already proves transformative for green initiatives.

This environmentally conscious approach aligns with the broader vision of the personal state, emphasizing a commitment to minimizing ecological footprints and building a greener future for all.

Accessible green initiatives

Personalized, direct communication also allows the state to better promote green initiatives and environmental awareness campaigns, making these efforts inclusive and widely available. Now everyone can easily engage with and participate in eco-friendly programs, no matter their background or circumstance. Estonia’s govtech approach to public service delivery targets every citizen according to their ability to do their part.

This approach fosters a collective responsibility for sustainable living, encouraging individuals from all walks of life to contribute to the broader environmental consciousness.

Smart resource management

It’s not just the paper-pushing, though—consider how many government resources are misallocated due to poor management. Govtech employs predictive AI to dial in resource allocation effectively. For example, the system optimizes waste collection routes and energy consumption for maximum efficiency, reducing the carbon footprint of public services.

Govtech helps the public sector empower sustainable lifestyles

Value-added services empower citizens to lead sustainable lifestyles. From the basics of data collection and resource management to citizen-initiative promotion, the personalized state steers society toward environmentally conscious decisions. Through accessible, proactive, and transparent practices—the Estonian model is creating a future where environmental sustainability is central to everyday governance.

personal goverment whitepaper

Rethinking how public services work

Personal government is a vision that considers the next stage of already developed digital societies to provide more human-centric public services, considering the complexities where traditional digital government approaches do not necessarily provide a straightforward solution.

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