Shaping tomorrow’s government

Six challenges. Six opportunities.

COVID-19 instigated a seismic shift in how the world operates, and no country has been left untouched. As governments begin to grapple with the long-term implications of the pandemic, they must reconsider how to address six pressing issues that they face: economic recovery, healthcare, education, climate, national safety and security, and rebuilding trust in government. This series of short articles offers a framework that governments can use to identify their governance style. The articles also describe the opportunities and challenges that each type of government will face in the coming years in working to address the six issues that will shape their future, and explore the implications for public–private relationships. 

Four government archetypes

We’ve developed four archetypes that help readers conceptualise how governments might address these six global challenges, based on two ideological considerations: how centralised and expansive the national government is (centralised versus decentralised) and its global orientation (globally versus locally oriented). Most governments will fall predominantly into one of the four archetypes, which will allow officials and other readers to understand the opportunities and questions that similar governments face in addressing the six challenges.

Three key accelerators

The following mechanisms, when overlaid on public-sector programmes and policy considerations, can help governments achieve a stronger, more resilient and more inclusive society.

As governments drive a digital agenda to increase citizens’ access to services, education, healthcare and social safety nets, digital platforms—if employed strategically—can serve as a great equaliser. Education is a prime example of the importance of digital infrastructure. During the COVID-19 lockdowns and the shift to online learning, it was estimated that two-thirds of the world’s school-age children did not have internet access. Estonia, which has the top-ranked school system in Europe, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, had a mature digital component prior to COVID-19 and was able to move seamlessly to remote learning. Other countries are looking to replicate Estonia’s success. Similar case studies exist across many elements of citizen services. 


Public–private partnerships have become a standard financing mechanism in the large-scale infrastructure sector but are often transactional in nature. A new form of partnership is emerging, however, in which the partnership is viewed as a deep collaboration of design, development and financing for groundbreaking programmes. These types of long-term partnerships can significantly accelerate innovation, growth and recovery after the pandemic. The Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) partnership, for example, was established in April 2020 and included more than a dozen leading biopharmaceutical companies and national health authorities in the quest for a vaccine. 


Many governments are making infrastructure part of their economic stimulus packages, and for good reason. A report by the Economic Policy Institute estimates that such investments are an economic multiplier, with each US$100bn put into infrastructure yielding as many as 1m full-time jobs, in addition to the benefit of the infrastructure itself. Forward-thinking countries are targeting green infrastructure, projects that will help achieve their Paris Agreement’s net-zero targets while providing growth and future jobs.


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Egon de Haas

Egon de Haas

Global Government & Public Services, Industry Executive, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 88 792 65 13