Demonstrating Participatory Values at the Brasilia Meeting

The following blog entry was written by Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, an innovator in deliberative democracy, public administration, and organizational development. She is Founder and President of Global Voices and AmericaSpeaks, a nonprofit organization that works to engage citizens in public decisions that  impact their lives. 

During the past few weeks America Speaks and Global Voices have been working with a number of partners to develop a series of online activites to support online participation and transparency during the upcoming OGP Annual Meeting in Brasilia, including the webcast [link] and live blog. In addition to our online work, Global Voices will also be on the ground in Brasilia with a side panel on how to create meaningful opportunities for public involvement in policy formation. Why are we directing so much of our time and energy into the international open government movement, and in support of the OGP in particular? Because we believe that doing so will have a major impact in the following ways.

By providing a powerful online program, OGP is demonstrating how engaging, transparent, large-scale events – delivered in partnership with civil society – can lead to greater public awareness, activism, and participation. Most of the people working to make open government a reality throughout the world cannot make it to the Brasilia meeting.  But OGP and its online engagement partners, including Global Voices, the World Bank Institute, O’Reilly Media, the Guardian and others, believe that it’s necessary to involve the broadest and most diverse group of participants possible to ensure that the outcomes of this process will be reflective of all the individuals and stakeholders working on open government.  By partnering with OGP and providing ways to participate from afar, we’re enabling far more people to join with those in Brasilia and engage in a discussion of today’s most pressing open government challenges and opportunities. Equally important, our effort to engage a worldwide online audience presents a model for OGP member countries of one way that they can include more of the public in their decision-making.  And finally, OGP is illustrating how working with networks of civil society organizations (CSOs) like us can help magnify the impact and reach of any citizen engagement effort.

OGP is driving home the need for increased, more meaningful public participation and engagement.  While transparency and open data have rightly experienced a surge in interest and investment over the last several years under the “open government” umbrella, in most countries the level of commitment to public involvement has not risen in parallel.  OGP and its partners have been working to change that.  They have hosted a number of webinars focused on public engagement in public decision-making, including one where we discussed some of the principles that guide our work and presented several case studies. By inviting Global Voices and other public engagement-driven Civil Society Organizations to play leading roles in the Brasilia meeting, OGP has publicly reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening global public participation.

OGP is having a major impact throughout the world, and is proving to be a driving force for greater citizen engagement.  In our home country, the United States, we’ve seen the Obama administration take its most significant steps toward including the public in decision-making since it made commitments to do so in its OGP action plan (for example, by launching the new We The People e-petition platform. We are hearing similar reports from Civil Society Organizations in other OGP member nations. The bottom line is that the Open Government Partnership is a unique multi-national effort and that this meeting represents a powerful opportunity to advance the causes of openness and public participation.  We are proud to be involved. We will see you in Brazil on April 17-18 -- or at the webcast!

Authors: Blog Editor
Filed Under: Champions
Tags: Brasilia, Obama