Making Law More Accessible: EU Launches openlaws.eu Project

10 Apr

Today is the official starting date for the openlaws.eu project, an EU Project funded by DG Justice. Openlaws will make legislation, case law and legal literature more accessible for citizens, businesses, legal experts and also public bodies and legal publishers. It aims to work with the public to add a social layer on top of existing legal information systems, intending to make it easier to work with others and to organize legal information. The project is built on open data, open innovation principles and open source software.

The project is currently in its initial starting phase, with a term of 24 months. At the moment it is offering a meta-search engine for legal content in Europe (based on N-Lex databases) and a legal App environment, and over the next few years it will be providing a variety of tools to further assist the public.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation Release Report on ‘Climate Change and Social Justice: An Evidence Review’

28 Mar

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has released a new report entitled ‘Climate change and social justice: an evidence review’. JRF are a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to identify the root causes of poverty and injustice, and support the communities struggling through these problems.

This latest report from JRF explores the social justice aspects of climate change in order to build an evidence base and support the development of socially just responses to climate change. There is a considerable lack of understanding about the implications of climate change on social justice in the UK and JRF attempt to amend this by exploring the long-term, systematic views on the issue and strengthen solutions to climate vulnerability. It collects current research and ideas in this emerging field to support the development of socially-equitable responses to climate change and considers the implications of this perspective for policy. It examines both direct and indirect impacts of climate change on UK populations and recognises aspects of UK policy to mitigate climate change by bringing down carbon emissions, identifying the costs and benefits of these policies.

Thoughts on the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System Conference

18 Mar

Back in February, Cat attended the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) Conference in Brussels. Over the course of two days, a number of speakers and panels addressed the key concerns facing Europe in the coming years, ranging from the future of the European economy, to its response to resource scarcity and its role in an increasingly polycentric world. Speakers included a range of public figures and policy experts from across the world, who took this chance to explore current global trends, the impact on the European Union and possible policy options for the future. Read more about the conference here.

The ESPAS project started in 2010 as an attempt to assess the long-term political and economic environments for the EU over the next 20 years. This year, the process will culminate in the publication of a detailed appraisal of long-term global trends and the challenges and options for the period 2014/2019. This shared commitment to collective, strategic thinking will lay the ground for more permanent cooperation and dialogue.

My @Wikistrat Report Released: “The Bicentennial Woman”

10 Mar

The first 200-year old woman is coming – or maybe she is already here…

With the 21st century promising to be the “century of biology”, one can plausibly conceive of a human – most logically a woman – finally breaking the 200-year age barrier. She will probably be born within the next century: indeed, some experts believe that the first “Bicentennial Woman” (BCW) may already be alive today

Join the New E-Discussion on ‘Reinvigorating the Public Service’

17 Feb

The UNDP have collaborated with the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the Governance and Social Development Resource Centre (GSDRC) to develop an e-Discussion on “Reinvigorating the Public Service”. The objective of this initiative is to strengthen public services as a crucial step to achieving the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Unfortunately, in many countries, years of declining morale and self-esteem have undermined the public service and if this problem is not addressed it seems increasingly unlikely public services can produce a complex agenda on a reduced budget. The e-Discussion seeks to engage experts, practitioners and policy makers in a global dialogue on “what really works” (and doesn’t work) in reforming public service in order to begin to tackle these problems.

Hosted on the UN Teamworks online platform from 10 February 2014 to 9 March 2014, the e-Discussion will provide a platform for posting queries, ideas and solutions. Content generated during the e-Discussion, including links to key resources, will be available after the discussion. The findings and insights will be summarized in a report that will be presented at the 2nd Public Service Dialogue that will be running later in the year at the GCPSE.

ECFR Scorecard 2014 Published

10 Feb

The European Council on Foreign Relations has released its annual European Foreign Policy Scorecard for the year 2013. The Scorecard is an annual report that systematically assesses Europe’s performance in dealing with the rest of the world. It compares the policies of the 28 EU member states against a number of central themes to assess whether they are a leader or a slacker in each field. The six key themes cover: China, Russia, US, Wider Europe, Middle East and North Africa and Multiplateral Issues. This year’s report found that there were significant failures in certain aspects of the EU’s foreign relations, especially with Russia, where Europe failed to repsond adequatly to increasing pressure on Eastern Neighbourhood states.

Cat was the consultant for assessing the UK’s performance against these key themes. She found that the UK was a “leader” on 11 components of European foreign policy,– second only to France. The UK played an active role in efforts on Iran and Syria and Iran, Asian security, the Serbia-Kosovo agreement and TTIP, but it was a “slacker” on trade disputes and human rights in China.

Cat Explores the Ways Politics can Engage People in Policy-Making

23 Dec

As a Guardian Professional, Cat has recently had her article, ‘Five ways political parties can engage more people in policymaking’ published in The Guardian online. In this report she assesses the recent World Forum for Democracy, which was held in Strasbourg by the Council of Europe in November, and the use of technology in policy-making. Cat notes that whilst the forum showcased successful examples of public engagement through technology, such as America’s Civic-IQ using insights from Playstation and Xbox to encourage citizen involvement in political problem solving, it also served to highlight the drawbacks. Cat outlines some of these disadvantages as the over-reliance on technology as the solution to political apathy or poor decision-making, and notes that large-scale online mobilisation is as open to abuse and manipulation as any other democratic process.

Open Letter Calling on Government to Commit to Greater Openess in Run Up to OGP

29 Oct

This month, Involve has coordinated a group of civil society organisations to produce an open letter calling on the Prime Minister to announce a series of ambitious commitments towards greater openness at the Open Government Partnership Summit at the end of the October. The Summit was opened to offer an international platform for domestic reformers attempting to make their governments more transparent and accountable to citizens.

Involve has done hugely important work with this letter, not only in terms of the benefits to individual commitments, but towards all the countries that are involved in the Summit, showing the ambition that is expected of them as national action plans are formulated over the next few months.