Open Governance and Social Accountability in Changing Times

Panelists: Sanjay Pradhan, CEO, Open Government Partnership; Thuli Madonsela, Former Public Protector, South Africa; Muhammad Abdullahi,  Commissioner, Budget and Planning, Kaduna State, Nigeria
Moderator: Simon Fowler, Master of Ceremonies & Independent Consultant  


Today’s environment is palpably different from that which inspired the creation of major social accountability and open government initiatives, such as the GPSA, the Open Government Partnership and Making All Voices Count. Both the priorities and policy environments in donor countries as well as the realities on the ground in which these initiatives are implemented have changed, posing new challenges for the implementation of openness and accountability interventions. On the other hand, the new Sustainable Development Goals provide a framework and a rationale for increasing participation and engagement of citizens, as a goal in itself, and as a means to achieve all other development goals. This session brings together leaders in the field – all deeply engaged as practitioners – to share their thoughts and experiences of navigating changing times and ensuring the continued relevance of open governance and social accountability initiatives for the foreseeable future.


Social Accountability and New Frontiers in Development

Chair/Facilitator: Dennis Whittle, CEO, Feedback Labs
Panelists: Deborah Wetzel, Senior Director, Governance Global Practice, World Bank; Colin Bruce, Senior Adviser Fragility, Conflict and Violence Group, Global Themes Vice Presidency, World Bank; Maninder Gil; Suneeta Kaimal, Chief Operating Officer, Natural Resource Governance Institute

This panel explores how social accountability interventions can rise to address contemporary development challenges such as mitigating fragility, conflict and violence, building trust in institutions, and strengthening civic space, among others. Building upon the reflections of the previous discussion, this session focuses on the World Bank’s own experience in promoting collaboration between its different units – traditionally focused on governance, poverty and fragility – to explore the growing role of social accountability and citizen engagement within challenging environments.


Social and Political Action for Empowerment and Accountability: What’s Different in Contexts of Fragility, Conflict and Violence?

Chair: John Gaventa, Research Director, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, UK
Panelists: Jonathan Fox, Professor, American University, Washington; Sarah Khan, Graduate Researcher, Institute for Development and Economic Alternatives; Maha El Said, Professor, Cairo University, Egypt; Stephanie de Chassy, Head of Gender, Governance and Social Development, Oxfam; Anuradha Joshi, Senior Fellow and Governance Cluster Leader at IDS, Brighton, UK
Discussant: Helene Grandvoinnet, Lead Governance Specialist, Governance Global Practice, World Bank Group


While a great deal has been written recently on approaches to empowerment and accountability, many of the lessons and approaches have been drawn from relatively stable, safe and democratic settings.  Yet, an estimated two billion people live in countries where these conditions do not exist - where development outcomes are affected by fragility, conflict, and violence. This panel will present and discuss emerging thinking from the newly launched Action for Empowerment and Accountability Research Programme (A4EA), funded by UKAid from the Department for International Development, which focuses on how social and political action can contribute to empowerment and accountability in fragile, violent and conflict settings.  Drawing from insights from three of the five focus countries—Egypt, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria and Pakistan—it will address the issue of potential entry points for support to accountability work in such settings and discuss the role external actors could play.


Civic Tech: Is Technology Transforming Social Accountability?

Chair: Aleem Walji, Aga Khan Foundation USA, CEO
Fletcher Tembo, Director, Making All Voices Count; Joy Aceron, Convener-Director, G-Watch; Harriet Nuamah Agyemang, Project Coordinator, SEND GHANA; Luther Jeke, Manager, iCampus Liberia

The promise of technology’s transformative and potentially disruptive value added to the field of social accountability has been discussed for a good number of years. Making All Voices Count, a multi-donor initiative created in 2013 and scheduled to come to completion this year, was predicated on the opportunity of harnessing the power of new technologies to make governments more accountable. This promise, however, has had its detractors, and for some time the field has been polarized between technology enthusiasts and others who emphasize the continued importance of political savviness, direct grassroots engagement and tried, tested accessible tools and approaches. While this polarization is an obvious caricature and a false dichotomy, the field of social accountability is only beginning to taking stock of its inroads into a technologically-enabled realm of possibilities. This session will review the first generation of technology in social accountability and pave the way towards a more effective use of the potential of civic tech for social accountability.