Despite serious concerns about closing space for civil society, and challenges to press freedom in many OGP countries, the gathering of over 2000 participants reaffirmed their commitment to the potential of open government to create greater transparency, accountability and trust in government.
“In just four years, OGP has grown to 69 nations who have made thousands of commitments to reform. Data has been made more open, information more available and accountability strengthened.
OGP is on the side of reformers around the world and we welcome new countries into the partnership.” said Joe Powell, Acting Executive Director of the Open Government Partnership Support Unit.
As the government of South Africa takes over the lead co-chair position, Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President of South Africa shared some of his hopes for OGP over the next twelve months:
“We all want to be part of solutions that ensure that ways of production and consumption are sustainable and that progress does not come at an irreversible cost to the environment” he said, adding:
“It is upon us to guarantee that the world we inhabit in the next fifteen years and beyond is defined by peace and the emancipation of women.”
All eight OGP founding countries – Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico,Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States – presented their progress reports at the two day Summit.
Commenting on the ambition and completion of the plans, Joseph Foti, Program Director of OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism said, “The IRM reports for the founding countries show a big divergence.
Some are at the cutting edge of public participation and information disclosure, while reports show that others need to double down on the fundamentals of how to find the opinions of their citizens.”
Throughout the Summit participants discussed how to adapt the OGP model to work with subnational governments.
There is a huge amount of momentum behind this effort and a pilot program to work more closely with a small number of subnational governments was announced by the OGP Steering Committee.
A plenary discussion at the end of day one brought together political leaders from Mexico City, Tirana, Pretoria, Paris and Washington D.C.
Deputy Mayor of Paris, Pauline Veron, talked about the importance of engaging citizens in decision making processes and developing the most ambitious participatory budget in history.
Commenting on the open government work already happening on a local level in so many parts of the world, incoming civil society co-chair Manish Bapna said: “this kind of inspiring leadership and innovation is precisely the reason we are so excited about working more closely with cities and other subnational governments.”
OGP is a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at securing concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption and harness new technologies to make government more open, effective and accountable.
It is fostering new ways for civil society and government to work together to solve problems and improve citizen’s lives.