Skip Navigation

An Open Government Approach to Facing the Pandemic in Latin America: What We Heard

Enfrentando la pandemia en Latinoamérica desde la óptica de gobierno abierto: Lo que escuchamos

wordcloud (1)
Alonso Cerdan|

As part of the regional discussions around the Open Response + Open Recovery, the Latin American community got together a month ago, convinced that the solutions to the pandemic must rely on openness, and exploring ways to better articulate our efforts at the national and regional levels.

In the context of the challenges that this unprecedented emergency poses, governments, civil society, academia, international organizations and citizens alike wonder: How can we coordinate our work at the national and regional levels? How can we leverage OGP’s resources and spaces (forums, commitments, boards) that we have developed over the years as a community to determine what we need to do today to face the crisis and its impacts over the short, medium and long terms? 

Following an analysis of the discussions of seven working groups, and in an effort to let this input continue to guide our approach to support response efforts and potential future dialogue, we would like to highlight the following key messages:

OGP’s Role in the Pandemic

The recommendation is clear: OGP, as a platform, must provide the necessary flexibility to let countries address their most pressing needs. But, at the same time, many questions arise about how to do just that. Various forums posed questions around how to leverage the spaces we already have, what the role of the multi-stakeholder forums can be, how to turn these demands into concrete answers, and how to account for our work. We identified the challenge of how to strengthen the collaboration and articulation of the regional open government community to coordinate strategies and enhance our work.

In this context, many countries are taking on the challenge to co-create their action plans and specific commitments online. Recently, OGP launched a series of online tools to take the co-creation process online. We will work with Democracia en Red to adapt some of these resources to the Latin American context, and we expect to publish the results over the coming months. We will also continue to foster the conversation to explore ways to articulate our efforts.

Recommendations about Specific Policy Areas

It has become clear that there is a complete rejection to any and all measures that cut down on the right to access to information or shrink the civic space over the short and long terms, as well as any attempt to limit accountability mechanisms. As the conversation highlighted, transparency and accountability cannot be put on lockdown. We also shared a great concern about the need to focus our response efforts in the most vulnerable groups and the importance of including these groups in the response efforts, with an inclusion and participatory approach. Besides, there is a widespread concern for the future of civil society financing.

Unsurprisingly, we received countless proposals. As part of our response efforts, we must identify the thematic areas that are being addressed by the community, as well as those that have been unattended. For instance, many showed concern around transparency of emergency procurement. This will be critical during the response and recovery efforts, and organizations such as the Open Contracting Partnership are creating spaces to discuss and face challenges. We will continue to work over the coming months to channel these demands into the corresponding collaboration efforts and, whenever necessary, we will create additional spaces.

Lastly, all of our conversations highlighted the need to identify and share best practices (some of which have already been collected) to face the crisis. We need to remember that the capacities already installed when the crisis started have largely determined our options for transparency, accountability and citizen engagement. In other words, openness investments over the medium and short terms are key during challenging times. For instance, Paraguay’s progress on public contracting allowed for the quick adoption of open data portals for transparency of the emergency procurement. Thus, sustainable policies are key, not only to adjust our practices and institutions permanently, but also to develop protocols to respond when crises arise. 

Best Practices

The Guide to Open Government and the Coronavirus, published by OGP and open government partners, is a starting point to map what countries are doing. The guide contains recommendations and resources around 13 thematic areas, including civic space, open data, inclusion and gender, and fiscal policy, among others. Due to the public interest this guide has sparked, OGP will continue to provide opportunities and platforms for peer exchange and learning.

Naturally, the conversation does not end there. If you identify any topic we failed to mention here but that was highlighted during our discussions, please comment at the end of this text. Over the coming months, we will continue the conversations and calls, first in smaller groups to allow for deeper analyses and specific proposals, and more broadly later on. The current context is very complex; thus, we need to leverage all the resources the Latin American open government community has to ensure that our responses follow the openness principles.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Content

Thumbnail for Open Response + Open Recovery

Open Response + Open Recovery

Our community’s fundamental values of accountability, transparency, inclusivity, and responsiveness are vital as we move through COVID-19 response to recovery. Find resources, events and examples from OGP and partners.

Thumbnail for A Guide to Open Government and the Coronavirus

A Guide to Open Government and the Coronavirus

Check out this guide for a one-stop shop of the best current resources on how open government projects and approaches can support tackling the pandemic.

Credit: WOCinTech Chat

Open Response + Open Recovery Digital Forum

Join the OGP community for virtual conversations about open government responses to the coronavirus pandemic and how to move towards open and effective recovery efforts.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!