10 Tips to Make the Most of an OGP Summit
The Sixth OGP Global Summit kicks-off this week in Ottawa, hosted by the Government of Canada. Over 2,000 open government champions will be attending, from across the 79 OGP countries and beyond. In addition to the main programme which begins on Wednesday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, there are a large number of side events on topics such as access to justice, feminist open government, and open contracting. The OGP Steering Committee will also meet at ministerial level. Calculating the impact of gatherings like these is hard, but it’s important the community challenges itself to make sure the event is action-forcing and not just a talking shop. Having been at almost all the OGP global and regional summits for the past six years, here are my top 10 tips on making the most of the week in Ottawa.
- Find an idea for your next OGP plan: The OGP action plan process is a concrete way to ensure ideas discussed at the summit result in concrete changes in your country. With 49 OGP plans due by the end of August this is the perfect moment to see what new ideas could be relevant for your context and make them a reality.
- Challenge each other to be more ambitious: OGP has always tried to encourage a “race to the top” between members, especially on emerging open government norms such as open contracting, participatory budgeting and and public registers of company ownership. Summits are great places to encourage this healthy competition, and OGP’s new flagship report will help spotlight the most interesting innovations that deserve to be scaled up globally.
- Embrace inclusion: The Ottawa summit has an inclusion theme running through it, from the newBreak the Roles campaign which launched last week, to the Feminist Open Government day, and an indigenous gathering. If every participant takes home one idea on how to make your country’s open government policy-making more inclusive, and to push the frontiers of using open government as a tool to advance gender equality, then we will have succeeded.
- Bring together national and local: The past few years has seen a major growth in the number of city and subnational governments joining OGP in some form, including 20 who are members in their own right. Some of the most interesting experimentation around open government is being led by these teams, and the hope is that these innovations can scale up across other local government and indeed to the national level too.
- Go to the side events: OGP summits are about much more than the main programme itself. Side events tend to have more space and time to go deeper into the topic, so whether your interest is in parliaments, feminist open government, access to justice or any of the other sub-community meet-ups happening, it’s well worth adding them to your agenda.
- Meet the ministers: OGP summits continue to attract large numbers of Ministers who lead on different parts of the open government agenda in their country. Without their engagement it’s hard to get the more ambitious reforms implemented, so take the opportunity to build stronger relationships with the political leaders in your country on open government.
- Share successes and failures: Everyone loves a great results story – and we’ll be sprinkling those throughout the plenaries – but it’s just as important that sessions explore where things didn’t go well.
- Report back: Sadly it’s not possible for everyone engaged in their country’s OGP process to be at the international events, so there is a responsibility for those attending to be inclusive in sharing what you’ve learnt and ensuring members of your OGP multistakeholder forum get to hear about your experience.
- Talk to someone new: It’s very tempting to use OGP events as a place to catch up with old friends from across the world, but that misses the opportunity of broadening your networks and making people new to the community feel welcome.
- Have fun!: Open government is a serious topic. But it’s also much easier to build coalitions internationally and develop the relationships that can help you succeed when the community gets to know each other in relaxed, as well as formal, environments