News

14 December 2017

From Bali to Jakarta: The evolution of OGP in Asia Pacific

De Bali a Yakarta: La evolución de OGP en la región Asia-Pacífico >>

It’s been three and a half years since the open government community convened in Bali at the 2014 OGP Asia Pacific Regional Meeting. Our generous hosts then, and today, called for the wider application of open government values in the region.  And the joint civil society communique agreed at the meeting asked for three things:

  • A post-2030 agenda and goals that incorporate good governance from the very beginning
  • Establishing and maintaining a mechanism for civil society to participate - and a standard for complying with OGP’s values
  • The establishment, expansion, and consolidation of civic space in the region

It’s great to see the progress we’ve made since Bali:

  • There are nearly double the number of participating countries in region - and we continue to welcome new countries like Kyrgyz Republic which joined us today for the first time as a participating country. OGP has expanded to the subnational level - both through the Subnational Pilot programme but also through subnational engagement and outreach as part of national OGP processes as we’re seeing today in Indonesia and Philippines.
  • OGP has survived, and even thrived in many instances, through political transitions - considered one of our greatest challenges.
  • The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the goals agreed in New York, a year after the Bali meeting, include goals to build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions and to build strong partnerships for implementation
  • We have seen some truly transformative commitments from this region - from citizen participatory audits in the Philippines, fiscal transparency reforms in Mongolia, transparent political party financing in Georgia, and efforts to improve public services through citizen feedback in Armenia and here in Indonesia.
  • At OGP, we’ve raised the bar on civil society participation - introducing new co-creation standards, introducing and implementing a Response Policy, and raising the bar for eligibility, introducing checks to see if the enabling environment for civil society exists, to emphasize the value we place on civic space

None of this would be possible without those of you in this room - and the reformers and you work with back at home. You have shown incredible drive to serve and succeed, dogged determination in the face of adversity, passion in a time of inertia, and leadership in forging strong partnerships that cut across traditional government-civil society divides. It is important to recognise these achievements.

But we would be naive to rest on these laurels and not recognize the significant challenges we continue to face. Asia Pacific is not immune to the troubling trends the rest of the world is experiencing; rising inequality; climate change and its disproportionate impact on the poor, including many already living in unacceptable conditions due to rapid urbanization and a lack of social protections; the growing crackdown on civic space and human rights that we’re seeing today, including in many OGP countries, even those in this room. For OGP to have a lasting impact, we cannot just be a talking shop, but must take these vital concerns and turn them into action. We need our leaders to walk the talk on open government.  As the world’s most populous region with growing influence in the global community, our failings will be the world’s failings but equally our successes could set the tone for the rest...

This meeting has come at a critical time. In the next year, almost all (10 out of 13) countries and three subnational governments will be working with civil society to development new commitments to open government.

It will be key that these countries address three areas.

  1. Embracing innovation and tackling new frontiers of open government: in climate change, service delivery, beneficial ownership, lobby reform and open contracting.
  2. Delivering transformational impact:  In 2018,  let’s raise the bar significantly, aiming to double the delivery of ambitious commitments.  
  3. Joining forces to advance open government within the region: Asia Pacific countries and communities need to work together to further the progress of open government. To turn the many ideas we’ve heard today into action - and convince others to embrace OGP principles and join the movement

Finally, I’d like to thank our generous hosts the Government of Indonesia and Indonesian civil society for giving us this wonderful opportunity to take stock of where we are and look forward to the future. And to the many partners that made this event possible. And of course all of you on whom we rely to carry the torch of open government in your countries and organizations, in the months and years to come.

Authors: Shreya Basu