So wonderful to see all of you in person after 4 years!
Our immense gratitude to Prime Minister Kallas, the Government and Civil Society of Estonia, and Anabel Cruz for hosting our Summit.
We meet amidst extraordinary threats to democracy and open government. But today, as we approach our 12th Anniversary, our partnership has the platform, people, and proven reforms to help shape a better, brighter future. To realize this promise, over the last year, we co-created with all of you our new OGP vision and strategy. Today, I call on all of us to advance key actions to achieve our precious promise.
So let me divide my call to action into three parts – “Why”, “What” and “How”.
First, “Why”. Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the rise of authoritarian leaders globally epitomizes the grave external threats to democracy and open government. But equally troubling are the internal threats from plummeting citizen trust in government. In too many countries people perceive their governments to be unresponsive or corrupt. Shockingly, in the World Values Survey covering 77 countries, the majority of respondents want a strong leader who does not bother with democracy, elections, or parliament! Populist leaders have stoked this distrust to get elected and then attack democratic institutions. Today, an astonishing 70 percent of the world’s population live in countries that are non-democratic or where democracy is backsliding.
While we find these same challenges in several OGP countries, we also find in our partnership – and right here at our Summit! – a thriving global community of thousands of courageous reformers and activists advancing ambitious reforms that improve governance and renew democracy. This is not rhetoric but reality. Because we have compelling evidence that hundreds of ambitious OGP reforms you co-created have made governments significantly more transparent, participatory, and accountable. These empower people to shape and oversee more open governments every day, not just only once when they vote. This is Democracy Beyond the Ballot Box.
But the reality is also that these reforms are too few to tackle our societal challenges.
So Part II, “What” should be our response and action? Today we launch the Open Government Challenge, calling on all OGP members to scale up ambition and action on ten vital policy reforms to tackle pressing societal challenges. Let me illustrate by grouping these in three clusters of reforms that we must scale up!
First cluster: Scale up reforms that credibly combat corruption.
- For this, let us seek inspiration from Ukraine – I invite our Ukrainian colleagues to wave. You inspire us today with your bravery, and have also inspired us over the years with award-winning open government reforms that measurably reduced corruption. Such as opening opaque contracts through Prozorro-Dozorro, or launching the world’s first beneficial ownership register. Amazingly, even amidst war, Ukraine delivered its latest OGP action plan, integrating open contracting and beneficial ownership transparency in a new platform – DREAM – to ensure accountability in postwar reconstruction.
- Today 40 OGP countries such as Nigeria, Slovakia, UK are advancing beneficial ownership transparency, and 70 OGP members are advancing open contracting, rapidly making these new global norms.
- Let us now similarly tackle political corruption. Such as 20 OGP members like Chile and Madrid advancing lobbying transparency.
Second cluster: let us multiply reforms that empower people, including marginalized groups, to access justice and shape policies that impact their lives, particularly at the local level.
- Such as Nandi County Kenya’s Toll-free Call Center empowering remote rural residents to provide service delivery feedback for government action. Or Estonia’s Citizen Initiative platform enabling people to crowdsource and vote on policy proposals for Parliament.
- I call on us to lift the voices of women and the marginalized. Such as Bogota, Colombia’s 50/50 route to gender parity. Or Indonesia’s platform covering 145 million welfare recipients, which vulnerable groups can verify and appeal to receive their payments.
- For all this, we must protect civic space and media freedom which are our very foundation but have come under pervasive attacks, including in OGP countries. Following the EndSARS protests against police brutality, Nigeria is holding citizens’ dialogues with police and developing guidelines for peaceful protests. The Dominican Republic is developing an ambitious strategy to strengthen civic space.
Third cluster: Let us together tackle big emerging threats.
- Let us combat climate change by embedding transparency and participation in climate actions. Such as Denmark’s Climate Atlas disclosing projections to empower municipalities and citizens to plan adaptation. Or Citizens’ Assemblies in France and Scotland forging consensus on contentious climate policies.
- Let us tackle digital threats. Such as Canada fighting disinformation by strengthening transparency of online political campaigns. Or the Netherlands tackling unintended harms from AI by improving accountability of government algorithms.
As you take up our Open Government Challenge, I invite you to share your successes and lessons on the OGP platform, so we inspire one another and become the hub of the coolest, most impactful reforms, inside or outside OGP.
Part III – The “How”
Now Part III – “How”? To scale up these ambitious reforms, we must mobilize stronger leadership inside our partnership and broaden our champions outside our partnership.
First: stronger leadership within.
- I call on more OGP Heads of States, and Ministers to visibly champion open government, nationally and globally.
- Let us invite dynamic Mayors and Governors to apply today to join our exciting, expanding OGP Local cohort that is delivering real impact in people’s lives locally!
- Let us forge strong thematic coalitions of leaders and partners, like the Beneficial Ownership Leadership Group, to scale up specific reforms.
- Let us grow our network of committed leaders by expanding our Open Government Leadership Collaborative.
Simultaneously, we must broaden our champions beyond our OGP community. We must not be content inside our bubble.
- Let us mobilize ministries across the whole-of-government, such as Brazil and Finland developing Open Government Strategies, or the Philippines prioritizing open government across its national development plan.
- Let us engage parliaments and judiciaries by advancing Open State, as in Kenya, Morocco, North Macedonia and across the Americas.
- Let us strengthen partnerships with key global platforms like the Summit for Democracy hosted next by Korea, UNCAC hosted by the US, positioning OGP as their implementation mechanism.
- And let us engage wider civil society such as for climate, women, LGBTQ, health, education, and mobilize people, especially youth, as key allies demanding open government to advance their causes.
Let me close with a personal story. Like many of you, my father was a reformer in government and later in civil society. He fought against corruption in India’s poorest state till literally the day he fell and he died. But he was a lonely warrior, fighting alone. Look around you. OGP’s strength is to connect such lonely warriors, so we multiply our collective strength. So at this Summit:
- Let us join forces to take up the Open Government Challenge and scale up your ambitious reforms.
- Let us join forces to forge a stronger, broader movement for open government.
- Let us join forces to deliver on our precious precious promise: better governance for and with people!