OGP in the News – November 2017
A weekly round-up of Open Government Partnership (OGP) media coverage around the world. Want to receive OGP in the News directly in your email inbox? Subscribe here.
With some 1,700 people gathering in Buenos Aires, Argentina on November 21-22 for the OGP Americas Regional Meeting, November was a newsworthy month for OGP. In the week leading up to, during, and following the event, OGP was mentioned over 500 times in news outlets throughout the region, with top hits out of Argentina, Mexico, the United States, Canada, and Colombia.
Just days before the mainstage event, national deputy for the province of Buenos Aires, Karina Banfi, summarized the significance of the OGP Americas Regional Meeting in a piece for Infobae. Highlighting the importance of transparency in combating corruption and bolstering the legitimacy of public policy, Banfi characterized OGP as “emblematic of the transparency agenda.” She went to say Argentina’s hosting the OGP Americas Regional Meeting represents a “milestone” in the country’s progress on open government.
During the event itself, the main point of coverage came during opening plenary on November 21st. National news sources La Nación, La Prensa, and Ámbito Financiero featured excerpts of speeches by Argentine President Mauricio Macri, Mayor of Buenos Aires (one of OGP’s subnational pioneers), Horacio Larreta, and Minister of Modernization Andres Ibarra. Minister Ibarra said the country must move toward an “open state” and expressed hope that Argentina will rank among the top ten countries on the Global Open Data Index by 2019. President Macri mirrored the Minister’s call for continued progress on transparency, saying, “We want a state that sheds light on those dark recesses that lead to corrupt practices.” He concluded his speech with a hopeful reminder that “we have everything to make it a reality in the future.”
The opening remarks of OGP Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Pradhan were also picked up by the media, appearing in both the print and online editions of Buenos Aires daily El Cronista. Describing Latin America as the “vibrant heart of OGP,” Pradhan called on the region to scale up the number of transformative OGP commitments. He went on to outline three priority areas for this call to action: the protection of civic space, the empowerment of women and marginalized groups, and the fight against corruption.
Takeaways from the Americas Regional Meeting are already being turned into action. Following the event, Grupo Milenio reported that Homero Niño de Rivera, one of the meeting’s attendees and current candidate for Mayor of the Mexican municipality of San Pedro Garza García, emphasized open government in his campaign platform. Inspired by Decide Madrid, the citizen participation platform launched by OGP subnational pioneer Madrid, Spain, Rivera is now looking to use digital platforms to increase collaboration between citizens and the government.
Even before the OGP Americas Regional Meeting, OGP made headlines in Buenos Aires with the launch of the capital’s BA Obras (“Works”) program in early November. Announced on the city’s municipal website, this new platform is part of the city’s OGP commitment to improve information transparency and citizen participation by illustrating how the Buenos Aires’ public works budget is broken down across all 838 projects. Fernando Straface, the city’s General Secretary for International Relations and OGP Envoy, commented, “This initiative represents a key step in our commitment to open up the government and make available information so that, together, we can co-create better policies.”
Outside of the Americas, Tanzanian subnational pioneer Kigoma-Ujiji has vowed to remain within OGP even as the national government withdraws from the Partnership, reported United Kingdom news site Daily Mail. The municipality, located in northwestern Tanzania, is facing increased pressure to comply with the national government’s decision. Tanzania’s Good Governance Minister, George Mkuchika, said in the article that “[i]f they [the council] continue to communicate with OGP as they are doing now, the government will take stern measures … which may include disbanding the municipal council.” In response, leader of the ACT-Wazalendo party (the party that runs Kigoma’s municipal council), Zitto Kabwe, said that forcing Kigoma to withdraw from OGP would be “unconstitutional.”
In Asia, OGP’s newest participant, the Kyrgyz Republic, announced that it was joining the Partnership. This announcement was picked up by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, as well as state media outlet Khabar. In a press release, Prime Minister Sapar Isakov expressed excitement at joining the Partnership, saying that “We are very proud to become part of the Open Government Partnership. It is a great honor to be the first country in Central Asia, as well as a great responsibility to take this important path.”
And in Europe, Latvia launched its latest OGP National Action Plan (NAP). In an opinion piece for Latvian Public Media, researcher Iveta Kažoka describes some of the plan’s most promising commitments, such as using visualizations of the national budget to promote fiscal transparency, publicizing procurement information for state-owned businesses, and making administrative processes more efficient.
Finally, OGP’s very own director for civil society engagement, Paul Maassen, was quoted in piece for The Economist. Commenting on the potential of digital tools that promote government openness, Maassen said, “Governments are starting to see that if we apply these tools smartly, it will help with the trust deficit.” The article pointed out, however, that governments must follow through on implementing open government reforms and create avenues for participation that do not exclude non-internet users from the “democratic process.”
Last but not least, in case you would like to relive the highlights of #OGPArgentina, check out all of the video coverage here.
Of course, we can’t catch everything in our news round-ups, so if you see we’ve missed something or think a particular story ought to be featured, please send it to email@example.com.