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A Look Inside OGP Local Action Plans from the Eastern Partnership

José María Marín|

This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Open Government Partnership and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

Against the backdrop of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Council made a historic decision to grant Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova European Union (EU) candidate status. The EU committed to giving the same status to Georgia, pending fulfillment of a set of conditions.

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Since 2020, OGP Local has welcomed eleven new local members from the Eastern Partnership region; in 2020, we welcomed Akhaltsikhe, Khoni, and Ozurgeti in Georgia; Khmelnytskyi, Vinnytsia and Ternopil in Ukraine and Vanadzor and Gyumri in Armenia, and in 2022 Kutaisi and Rustavi from Georgia and Armavir and Yerevan from Armenia joined the Partnership. 

In 2021 we received seven OGP action plans from the locals which joined OGP Local in 2020, which included commitments on engaging marginalized communities, fiscal openness, citizen participation and anti-corruption. 

So far, the most popular theme by the local members in the region is to use open government approaches to make governments more inclusive of marginalized communities. Here we have commitments by Khoni, Ozurgeti, and Vanadzor & Gyumri, which engaged with different groups of residents, such as women or people with disabilities to gather information on their needs or provide information to improve their access to public services. 

Khoni, Georgia implemented a commitment which mandated the participation of people with disabilities in all future urban development projects to ensure accessibility needs are met. Since then, the renovation plans for public spaces in the middle of Khoni have included the perspective of this council.  Vanadzor and Gyumri committed to providing information online about accessibility to public buildings in the hopes of increasing the participation of people with disabilities in public processes held at these facilities. 

Fiscal openness has always been a popular theme by OGP national members, and this is also true for local ones. Three commitments have been made so far to make the budget process more transparent and accessible. For example, Ozurgeti, Georgia implemented a commitment to make the approval process for the 2022 fiscal year budget more inclusive for citizens. A new ​​priority document was developed for the budget years of 2022-2025 and public meetings with the participation of stakeholders and interested parties were held. This resulted in budget-related information and processes being more accessible and widely available to local citizens in Ozurgeti municipality and enabled a public discussion of the program budget.  

Just like fiscal openness, anti-corruption efforts seek to ensure that public funds are used efficiently and deliver quality services to the citizens. This has also been present in the action plans of some members in the region. For example, Akhaltsikhe, Georgia, made transparent their corruption risks by publishing an assessment of corruption of several administrative processes. 

Local governments are closer to their citizens, which opens greater opportunities to engage with their citizens. Taking advantage of this, OGP Local members have included commitments on public participation, like Vinnytsia, Ukraine who plans to develop regulations on public consultations to strengthen their governance systems. 

Local governments are also at the forefront of many of today’s most pressing global issues, such as the pandemic response and climate change, and the OGP action plan is an opportunity to have governments and citizens join forces to tackle some of these issues. For example, Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine included a commitment in their latest action plan to develop a Green City Action Plan to establish a green vision for the city and engage citizens in its implementation. 

The OGP Local commitments received to date from our Eastern Partnership members are as varied as the members themselves. They demonstrate how open government approaches can strengthen service delivery and promote sustainability in the face of global challenges. 

In 2022, more local members in the region will be co-creating new action plans, including Akhaltsikhe, Khoni, Kutaisi, Rustavi and Ozurgeti in Georgia as well as Armavir and Yerevan in Armenia, which presents another opportunity to challenge themselves to adopt ambitious open government reforms. 

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