Transparency: an idea whose time has come

There are just three weeks to go before the UK hosts the annual Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit in London. The Partnership is now a truly global movement and the governments of around a third of the world population will be represented. At the top table will also be Civil Society representatives.

The summit marks the end of our year as the organisation’s lead co-chair. During 2013, through the OGP and our presidency of the G8, the UK has been at the forefront of the expanding international transparency movement. At the G8 in June, the Prime Minister pledged that the UK’s leadership of the OGP would 'drive a transparency revolution in every corner of the world'. The theme of our chairmanship of the OGP has been that transparency drives prosperity.

In the last 12 months, another four countries have joined the OGP, bringing total participation to 60. Many countries have also published their first action plans. At the summit, while reflecting on the solid progress that’s been made, our priority is to set out ambitious transparency commitments for all participants and to embed the organisation as a credible force for making governments more open, accountable and efficient, and societies healthier and more prosperous. In the coming days we will set out our key themes for the summit – those priority areas where we want to see concrete progress and challenging goals. 

Governments will gather to share success stories, check that previous transparency promises have actually been kept, and set ambitious new commitments for greater openness. Civil society will hold their feet to the fire and generate inspirational new ideas.

The summit will also celebrate how transparency initiatives are leading to real improvements in the lives of ordinary people. This is the ultimate test of the benefits of transparency and these OGP success stories from around the world will act as powerful advocates for open government.

After just two years, with its widening participation and the unique partnership between governments, civil society and the private sector, the OGP Summit offers an unmissable opportunity to hardwire transparency into international governance.

This is an important moment. People around the world are demanding much greater openness, democracy and accountability from their governments. Citizens are demanding that the state should be their servant, not their master, and that information that governments hold should be open for everyone to see.  At the same time, new technology is disrupting established bureaucracies and creating opportunities for much more responsive government. Around the world, reforms to open up government are delivering tangible benefits: faster growth, better public services, less corruption and less poverty.

In short, transparency is an idea whose time has come.

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