What is the Open Government Partnership
In May, the Building Change Trust is hosting a seminar on the potential implementation of the Open Government Partnership in Northern Ireland. What would this mean for the local Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector? We answer your questions.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) was launched in 2011 to provide an international platform for domestic reformers committed to making their governments more open, accountable and responsive to citizens. Since then, it has grown from 8 countries to 63 participating countries.
In all of these countries, government and civil society are working together to develop and implement ambitious open government reforms.
OGP is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.
In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a Steering Committee including representatives of governments and civil society organizations.
To become a member of OGP, participating countries must endorse a high-level Open Government Declaration, deliver a country action plan developed with public consultation and commit to independent reporting on their progress going forward.
The 8 founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States) endorsed the Open Government Declaration, and announced their country action plans.
In just two years, OGP has welcomed the commitment of 55 additional governments to join the Partnership. In total, OGP participating countries have made over 1,000 commitments to make their governments more open and accountable.
OGP’s vision will require a shift in norms and culture to ensure genuine dialogue and collaboration between governments and civil society. OGP aspires to support both government and civil society reformers by elevating open government to the highest levels of political discourse, providing ‘cover’ for difficult reforms, and creating a supportive community of like-minded reformers from countries around the world.
Now that OGP is established and has grown significantly, the key objective over the next two years is to make sure that real change is happening on the ground in a majority of OGP countries, and that this change is benefiting citizens.
For the Open Government Partnership model to work, lots of people need to get involved.
In the UK Prime Minister David Cameron has championed open government with a pledge to make the government “the most open and transparent in the world”.
The UK has also led an international agenda with transparency at its core, through the co-chairmanship of the OGP and the Prime Minister’s co-chairmanship of the UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons.
Currently the Open Government Partnership has little impact in Northern Ireland due to the fact that the commitments made are almost entirely at central government level and apply only to England and Wales.
However, there is no reason why this cannot change and the Open Government Partnership as a movement is interested in ‘making it local’ as a next step in its evolution.
The Building Change Trust has identified the Open Government Partnership as a potential opportunity for the local VCSE sector to campaign for greater transparency, accountability and participation in Northern Ireland. As a first step the Trust is organizing two key events in May.
The first is the organization of a group of local VCSE sector representatives to participate in the Open Government Partnership’s European Regional Conference in Dublin from 7th-9th May. Participants will have the opportunity to see the Open Government Partnership in action and engage with civil society and government representatives from over 20 countries.
The second event is a seminar to be held in Belfast on 16th May designed to stimulate discussion and debate on the Open Government Partnership’s relevance and applicability in Northern Ireland.
This seminar will also be used to gauge interest in forming a working group that would identify specific actions and seek to mobilise the VCSE sector to campaign for local implementation of the Open Government Partnership.
If you or your organisation would like to attend this seminar please click here.