By Olive Moore, GPSA Knowledge & Learning
I spent last week inside some very beautiful old buildings in Mexico City with over 2,000 others from governments, civil society organizations and businesses from around the world. As well as admiring the beautiful architecture, I got to hear Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto speak in the stunning Palacio de Bellas Artes. But we all had more serious business: reviewing and strengthening the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
For anyone less familiar, the OGP is a multilateral initiative, launched in 2011. For such a young enterprise, OGP’s resume is impressive: From 8 founding countries to 69, support from ministerial and presidential levels in government, considerable buy-in from civil society, and 2,500 total commitments and 109 action plans so far. And all of this is focused to increasing government transparency and responsiveness, and citizen empowerment.
Every two years, the OGP holds their Summit. The beauty of this initiative is that this is one of the few spaces where civil society, government, and increasingly, businesses engage and interact together as equals – with a shared agenda. The OGP supports ‘reformers’ in governments, and provides a platform where civil society can engage and support them. But the ultimate winners are citizens who benefit from more open, accountable responsive governance.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Back in Washington, DC, away from the buzz, I am quickly reminded of the real challenges facing OGP. How will we make the commitments to link and align OGP to the Sustainable Development Goals meaningful? How will we make OGP itself more impactful in the lives of everyday citizens, moving beyond the elated declarations of politicians and aspirations of civil society activists? How will we bridge the gap between the high level commitments and the actual implementation? How will we ensure open governance is not eclipsed by closing civil society space?
This is a serious agenda which is essentially about reshaping how we do politics, digging at the very deep roots of how power is distributed in society. Within open governance, there is much for social accountability to do: citizens need to have voice, civil society needs to be resourced, reformers in government need to be supported, and gaps in data need to be addressed. The OGP is a strategic partner for the GPSA, and we are continuously exploring ways to support their agenda, including aligning our funding with OGP action plans. I am mindful of the challenges, I am greatly encouraged this initiative exits and is thriving.
Check out the blogs and recordings from the OGP Summit here.