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Charting the Next Three Years for OGP

Trazando los siguientes tres años para OGP

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Joe Powell|

The Open Government Partnership’s founding mission and vision remain as powerful today as they were in 2011, and yet the context for our work has changed profoundly. On the one hand OGP has grown into a mature partnership, with 78 national members, an increasing number of local governments and thousands of civil society participants. Together they have co-created over 4000 open government reforms, of which a significant proportion have shown major impact. Yet at the same time as OGP has been growing, the wider geopolitical context has been one of democratic backsliding, closing civic space and the rise of authoritarian and populist politics, including in OGP member countries.

These two competing trends lie at the heart of the rationale for a new OGP three-year implementation plan (2020-22). Its objective is to provide a roadmap for better implementation of OGP’s mission and vision, given both OGP’s growth and changed operating environment. It will aim to bring clarity and focus to how OGP delivers on its strategy, enabling near-term decisions that advance medium-term results, and help the many actors involved in OGP work together more effectively toward those results. 

The draft three-year implementation plan outlines four results areas for OGP:

  1. Commitments: Ambitious open government reforms that empower citizens to shape and oversee government are credibly implemented.
  2. Countries: Bright light countries role model values such as government-civil society cooperation, inclusion and civic space, and advance a holistic open government agenda. 
  3. Themes: Policies that empower citizens to shape and oversee government are advanced across multiple countries, creating new global open government norms and principles. 
  4. Global: Open government issues have a stronger presence on the global stage, including in global governance fora and frameworks.

In order to advance these results there are five strategic approaches that all those involved in the Partnership can collectively advance. The first is that OGP must continue to remain a strong universal platform for reformers in any member country or locality to advance context-specific open government reforms that tackle major societal challenges. This means ensuring OGP remains a place where reformers can access tools, resources, peer contacts, inspiration and ideas that can then be applied to different parts of the world. It also includes ensuring that OGP continues to deepen at the local level, going beyond national governments and civil society to city and subnational contexts where governments and citizens have much of their interaction. And it includes ensuring that the Independent Reporting Mechanism is operating in a way which provides effective learning and accountability to the OGP process. 

The “OGP as a platform” concept was very much the founding theory of change for the Partnership, and continues to be an inclusive and powerful approach for 2020-22. In addition, as the Partnership has grown, it is also necessary to identify a smaller number of priority areas where there are strong opportunities to achieve impact. In the next three years this will take the form of a focus on priority commitments, priority countries, priority themes and priority global advocacy strategies. In practical terms this means trying to align the partners, resources, time and energy that OGP has at its disposal behind: a) a set of potentially ambitious action plan commitments that need support on implementation; b) a set of countries where there is the potential to make significant progress on a holistic open government agenda; c) a set of thematic policy areas where OGP can add value in advancing old or new open government principles; and d) global advocacy strategies that build on OGP’s value as a bridge between global frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals “Decade of Delivery” and the global events on anti-corruption, and national implementation. These priorities will necessarily not be fixed over a three-year time period, as many depend on windows of opportunity, so they will be adaptable based on a regular process of iteration, feedback and monitoring. If for example a new government wins power on an open government ticket, then OGP should be nimble enough to work with partners to seize that opportunity and provide intensive support. 

The breadth and diversity of OGP is one of its major strengths as a partnership. The heart of OGP is the government reformers and civil society leaders in our member countries who are forming unusual coalitions to tackle big societal challenges using open government approaches. They are supported by our partners in international NGOs, multilateral agencies, the private sector, and academia advancing old and new open government norms and principles, on issues as diverse as public service reform and anti-corruption. The strategic oversight is provided by the 11 governments and 11 civil society leaders who are elected to the OGP Steering Committee. The OGP Support Unit is the small permanent staff that keep the machine running, providing support services to our members to co-create and implement reforms, and helping the diverse parts of OGP add up to a strong movement for openness and democracy globally. The Independent Reporting Mechanism provides accountability and lessons learned to improve in the future. 

Without the constituent parts of OGP working together, the Partnership will not meet its full potential. We’ve heard from many partners in developing this plan. Over the next month we’re keen to hear what success in OGP over the next three years looks like to you, and how you think we can best achieve it together. If you’d like to review a draft of the three-year plan as it stands, please download the latest version here, or get in touch to arrange a phone call to discuss your ideas for better advancing this vital mission.

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