OGP in the News – September 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.
September’s OGP media coverage peaked during the week of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), as political leaders and civil society activists flocked to New York to shape the international discussion on open government. Convened by the Partnership’s incoming and outgoing co-chairs—President Emmanuel Macron of France, Manish Bapna of the World Resources Institute (WRI), Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili of Georgia, and Mukelani Dimba of the International School for Transparency—OGP’s event at the UN, “Rebuilding Trust in Government,” tackled the critical issue of declining trust in public institutions.
Building on this theme of trust, OGP launched Trust: The Fight to Win It Back, a collection of 25 essays authored by leading thinkers from government and civil society on the many ways to #RenewTrust in the current political climate, at the UNGA event. Unilever Chief Executive Officer Paul Polman’s essay was featured in HuffPost, emphasizing the importance of “progressive partnerships” between government, civil society, and business in realizing the “vision of the world we want” and restoring trust. He encouraged the private sector to leverage initiatives like OGP as entry points for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and creating frameworks for better, more accountable business and greater transparency in government.
More UNGA-related coverage came out of Spain, where El Mundo, La Informacion.com and some 40 other news outlets spotlighted the participation of Madrid City Council member Pablo Soto Bravo at OGP’s event. As a participant in the OGP Subnational Pilot Program, Madrid has gained international acclaim for its open source citizen participation platform, Decide Madrid, which Soto showcased during a panel discussion. Following the OGP event, the Europa Press reported that several Korean cities had announced plans to implement the platform, , making South Korea the first Asian country to adopt Madrid’s innovative model.
Toward the end of UNGA week, Morningstar published a press release (also available in French) announcing that the government of Canada will succeed Georgia as lead OGP government co-chair for 2018-2019. Represented by the President of the Canadian Treasury Board, the Honorable Scott Brison, Canada’s OGP leadership will focus on the priority areas of inclusion, participation, and impact.
And in a Bloomberg article, the former U.S. trade representative, Michael Froman, pointed to OGP’s 2011 founding during a General Assembly side event to illustrate that UN side events “even produce results” from time to time.
Outside of UNGA, national news sources in South Korea reported on the Memorandum of Understanding signed at the end of August between OGP Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Pradhan and Nam Yeong-sook, Secretary General of WeGo, an international organization of cities committed to sustainable urban development. The agreement sets a precedent of collaboration between OGP and WeGo, both of which will share experience, expertise, and resources to advance the open government and sustainable development agendas.
In Africa, meanwhile, Senior Director of Policy for the International Budget Partnership (IBP) Vivek Ramkumar writes that Tunisia is “at a crossroads” in an opinion piece for US News. On the one hand, the Tunisian government has made fruitful efforts to respond to citizen demands that came to light during the Arab Spring, passing an access to information law and ranking among the “top performers in the Arab world” in the 2015 Open Budget Index. However, the author concedes that recent legislative proposals threaten to “sweep past corruption under the rug,” counter to the “growing belief among Tunisians that openness and transparency are key to the country’s advancement.” Since joining OGP in 2014, for example, civil society organizations have pushed the government to make more ambitious OGP commitments. Ramkumar calls for further progress, reminding all stakeholders that the “gains achieved so far are just a beginning.”
Elsewhere in Africa, AllAfrica.com reported that Tanzania has withdrawn from OGP. The second African country to join the Partnership after South Africa, Tanzania’s OGP participation was popularized under former President Jakaya Kikwete. Commenting on the decision to leave OGP, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East Africa Cooperation, Dr. Aziz Mlima, said, “There are issues that we need to address first before implementing it [the OGP].”
Finally, earlier this month, the Trump administration released a draft framework to develop the United States’s fourth National Action Plan (NAP). According to CoinDesk and Nasdaq, high on the list of topics shaping the United States’ open government agenda are commitment proposals related to “Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain technology and open data.” Covering a workshop hosted by the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Emerging Citizen Technology (ECT) program, both sources quoted workshop participants expounding on the potential of blockchain technology to “fundamentally transform” public services and how the government interfaces with its citizens.
Last but not least, don’t let time and space limit your #opengov experience! In case you missed OGP’s UNGA excitement, you can relive our event by watching the recorded 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.