Faces of Open Government: Kai Klandorf
Meet Kai, the Executive Director of the Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations (NENO). Kai was a prominent voice at the 2023 OGP Global Summit in September 2023 and in this month’s Faces of Open Gov, she shares her views on strengthening democracies, the critical role civil society organizations play in opening up governments everywhere, and what she hopes for the future of OGP as a new strategy is deployed for the next five years.
Why did you decide to get involved in open government?
I have experienced what bad decision-making can lead to. I was born in the Soviet Union, and for a period of my life I had the most amazing experience living in Nepal. Both of these experiences taught me a lot and scared me at the same time. I saw how easy it is for governments to make decisions that are not in the interest of the people, or are even harmful to some minorities. I want to be part of a country where citizens’ voices are heard and they are valued, where good and joint decisions are made based on citizen voices. I want to live in a society where there is trust between people and governments. I am willing to work for that in my country and hopefully influence others with that. Civil society has loads of expertise that can be put to use in building better societies.
Why was hosting the Summit in Estonia important during this critical time for democracy?
For the majority of its existence, Estonia has been occupied by another country. Being a small and new democracy you are often not noticed. Organizing, hosting and doing a good job at it, is important to getting other governments to pay attention to you. Hear and notice what you say.
At the same time it is valuable to organize platforms that avoid duplication. Coming together, sharing experience, learning from each other, finding real solutions, adapting them – it reduces the time we all might put into reinventing the wheel. It is important to know our challenges and find solutions jointly, to avoid repeating each other’s mistakes.
What aspect of the OGP Global Summit were you particularly looking forward to or excited about?
I was very excited about the opening speeches, what key messages were sent our way to be carried throughout the Summit. OGP’s CEO Sanjay Pradhan also gave a very inspiring opening speech to kick off the Summit. At the same time I was looking forward to hearing some useful tips and tools to take with me and use while advocating for a more open government and I got some good suggestions and tools to use from a civil society perspective. These kinds of events are not only important for networking and seeing friends, you can actually hear about solutions to keep the open governance topic on the agenda.
What did you learn from reformers from other countries that attended the Summit?
We need to work together. Civil society is, to some extent, reinventing the wheel in different regions. We need to learn how to share, adapt, and implement each other’s knowledge a bit better.
With the launch of a new strategy, what are your hopes for the Partnership moving forward?
I hope to see tangible results and tools to be used and implemented throughout the Partnership. There are ambitious goals. Now I want to see real action to get us closer to true open government. Only coordinated and joint activities can have real impact. I am not too naive in hoping we can change other governments towards democracy, but we should nevertheless try. By making our democracies stronger and more sustainable, we can be a beacon of hope for other civic activists worldwide and motivate citizens to be a real force of nature that other countries can then support.
Open Gov Guide
The Open Gov Guide is the go-to resource for officials, civil society representatives, and other actors looking for recommendations, examples, and resources on open government.
OGP Steering Committee Tallinn Commitment
Remarks from OGP’s CEO Sanjay Pradhan at the 2023 OGP Global Summit