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Faces of Open Government: Aidan Eyakuze

Rostros del gobierno abierto: Aidan Eyakuze

Aidan Eyakuze|

In December, Aidan Eyakuze and the Government of Italy became the co-chairs of the OGP Steering Committee, laying out a joint agenda to tackle the challenges in the year ahead. Aidan sat down with OGP to share some of the work he and his counterparts in Italy hope to achieve this year and his hopes for the future of the open government community. 

Aidan, you have been a member of the OGP Steering Committee for six years now and know the needs and challenges facing the Partnership well. What does leading this group of reformers in government and civil society mean to you? What role do you think the Steering Committee can play in enhancing the work of reformers everywhere? 

For me it means a fantastic opportunity to work with a group of people who are on a great quest of reforming and improving how governments work with, and for citizens. These are brave, intelligent, passionate people who want to change how governments work domestically, subnationally, and globally. 

In realizing this ambition, I think there are a few roles that the Steering Committee can play. First, it is important to highlight that we are facing an almost existential moment for both the idea and practice of democracy around the world. The growing lack of transparency, the expanding exclusion of citizens, and the disdain for public accountability pose serious threats to our social cohesion and collective welfare. Global financial, intellectual and cultural elites will not solve our complex, collective challenges. Fortunately, during the past decade, the Partnership has developed a proven mechanism for how these threats can be dealt with through open, inclusive, and responsive approaches to government. 

But we must go further as the OGP Steering Committee. We must make a strong, compelling case for the potency of democracy. This is a very tough challenge under current conditions of a growing, seductive appeal of autocracy. But I think we have to appeal directly to citizens and help them understand the powerful and direct role they can play to make government work better for everyone. We must forge coalitions of reformers within countries and between countries to actualize an effective democratic vision that delivers and improves people’s lives.


What are some areas that require more work and attention from the open government community? What do you hope to achieve in your year as co-chairs to move the needle towards more open and accountable governments? 

I’ve been very fortunate to work with the Government of Italy to align our focus areas.

First, we share a conviction to improve the space for civic action. Civic space has been shrinking all over the world, including in OGP countries. The Government of Italy and I are committed to encouraging, advising, and persuading Partnership countries to co-create ambitious commitments to open up civic space, and to make it more conducive for citizens to take active part in policy formulation, execution and evaluation. I shall be co-chairing an OGP Civic Space Learning Network to help push this forward.

Second, we want to promote the open government framework as a great way to improve public service delivery for ordinary citizens. This is what matters most to most people. Much more than the niceties of an ideological or a governance framework, it is the tangibility of better schools, hospitals, water and economic opportunity that are most important to citizens. The Government of Italy’s new fifth action plan will focus on how to use the European Union’s Next Generation Funds for an ambitious plan of national resilience and recovery. It will be an excellent opportunity to showcase the relationship between open government and public service delivery to Italians, Europe and the world.

Third, we will look to the future by initiating a dialogue within the Partnership as to “what’s next for OGP’s second decade.” The first decade proved that the OGP mechanism works. Our focus for the next decade will be to transform it from a mechanism to a movement. To do so, we must, in part, deliberately reach out to two main constituencies: young people and business, especially those that are at the influential cutting edge of the world’s digital economy.

I must add my conviction that OGP Local will shape the future of the entire Partnership. That is where the rubber of government performance meets the road of citizens’ expectations. Local government jurisdictions such as cities, counties and regions are where civic space tends to be more open, public service delivery can be improved in tangible ways, and citizens can more effectively hold their governments to account. This year, 50 new local government authorities will join the Partnership, adding to the 76 local jurisdictions that are already members and who are highlighting the vibrancy of the movement.


Last year, OGP marked its ten-year anniversary, taking stock of its successes, lessons learned, and challenges ahead. What do you hope to see from the OGP community in the next decade? What can we do to get there? 

I want to see us attract more young people and their incredible energy, ideas and enthusiasm for refreshing democracy around the world, into the Partnership. I hope that many young people in their twenties will be inspired and galvanised by the ideas underlying open government.

 Second, I want to see more businesses, and especially the digital platforms, in the Partnership. That’s a particularly hard nut to crack, but we must be creative about the value proposition that we make to business to join the open government movement.

What can we do to get there? A huge part of it is to communicate OGP’s value proposition. We must show how people are benefiting from openness, amplify the innovations happening in local communities, and harness, focus and celebrate the energy released from inviting everyday citizens or civil society to creating and implementing solutions to their challenges.

 We can expand the OGP into these two new constituencies to help transform open government ideas and actions into an energised movement for more responsive democratic government around the world.

Comments (1)

Susan Juliet Reply

To drive the OGP commitments and ensure that they are implemented, the participation of young people is critical.
Susan Juliet

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