Skip Navigation

Faces of Open Government: Liia Hänni

Rostros de Gobierno Abierto: Isabel Moya Pérez

Liia Hänni|

Meet Liia Hänni, a trailblazer in open government and e-democracy. Liia’s journey began as an astrophysicist at Tartu Observatory, but her passion for transformative change led her to transition into politics in 1990. As an elected member of the Supreme Council and Congress of Estonia, Liia actively contributed to working groups and chaired the editing committee of the Constitutional Assembly.

Over the past decade, she has been a driving force in the e-Governance Academy’s e-democracy domain, working tirelessly to improve functional mechanisms of democracy in society and state governance.

In this exclusive interview, we delve into Liia’s remarkable journey, her accomplishments in open government, and her invaluable insights into fostering citizen engagement and transparency

  • As someone who transitioned from a successful career in astrophysics to politics, how did your background in science influence your approach to governance and policymaking?

Science is based on rationality – you need to prove your ideas and hypotheses. In politics, you need to be able to explain and justify political goals. A rational approach helps to understand different political positions, which is especially important for finding common ground in decisive moments. I am very proud of the historic decision we made on 20th August 1991 to restore the independence of the Republic of Estonia and prepare a new constitution. If the foundation of a country’s values holds, it is easier to build a modern democratic state on it.  

The development of democracy has been central to my political activities for many years. As the Minister of Reforms, I understood that radical economic reforms can be carried out by the means of law, but more is needed to have a truly democratic society. It is necessary to create a new democratic political culture. I was very glad when I learned that OGP provides a perfect platform for democracy innovation, so I became an advocate of OGP. 

  • With the 8th OGP Global Summit approaching, what are your expectations for the event?

I look forward to the OGP Summit injecting new energy into the initiative and reaffirming the commitment of members across the Partnership to democratic values of open government. The last few years have been difficult with the COVID crisis and the war in Ukraine, which has somewhat distracted attention from open government. However, the OGP approach is more needed than ever when we think about coping with climate change and the backlash we’re seeing toward democracy.  This requires joint efforts of the OGP community, governments, and civil society. 

The new OGP strategy is an ambitious vision to make the initiative more impactful. I hope the Summit will be a powerful call to action for all reformers around the world. The role of civil society is crucial for the success of OGP. Let’s use the OGP Summit in Tallinn to start new partnerships and strengthen already existing civil society networks! 

This Global Summit is a great opportunity to get to know Tallinn and its historic old town.  I sincerely hope that despite the busy schedule, our guests will find time for this.  

  • As a senior expert in e-democracy, could you explain how using technology in governance can empower citizens to participate, both in Estonia and worldwide? 

Digital technology provides abundant new opportunities for collaboration between governments and citizens. It opens new communication channels for government-citizen interaction. The result is increased accountability of politicians and public officials and broader citizen contribution to policy making. It is very important that governments pay real attention to citizens’ input. It is not enough to just open online platforms. We must ensure that the decision-making process responds to citizens’ contributions.   

With the ever-widening spread of digital technology, one must also be aware of threats to democracy that might accompany it, such as hate speech, closed communication bubbles, etc. The opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence for open and inclusive governance also require special attention. We need smart and responsive e-democracy.

  • Looking at Estonia’s current OGP action plan, what’s your vision of the future of open government and e-democracy to address complex social problems while ensuring transparency and accountability in Estonia and beyond?

From the very beginning, the Estonian OGP action plans contained commitments for open and participatory policy-making and legislative processes. This is also the case in the current action plan for 2022 – 2024.  Both civil society and the government have realized that significant changes in public governance require time and consistent actions. Commitments in Estonian OGP action plans are focusing on both the central government and the local government level. The fundamental goal of co-creative policymaking is building trust and taking joint responsibility for the development of society. Trust is a crucial factor for solving complex social problems. OGP is a good platform for trust building. 


Comments (3)

Gladys Estela Riveros Rojas Reply

“El 20 de agosto de 1991 de restaurar la independencia de la República de Estonia y preparar una nueva constitución”. En base a la constitución antigua o anterior no debe perderse es mi opinión, porque personas realizaron el análisis de acuerdo a la necesidad y momento (circunstancias), lo importante seria ampliarla. Los objetivos puestos en marcha acompañado de las normas vigentes.

Paul Barker Reply

I’m pressing the tab for Cielo Magno, and Liiia Hanni’s details come up. So, reading on Ms Hanni is interesting, but how do I access your piece on Cielo Magno?

Jessica Monaco Reply

Hi. Can you tell me where you are clicking?
The story is here:

Leave a Reply

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

Related Content

Thumbnail for 2023 OGP Global Summit: Tallinn, Estonia

2023 OGP Global Summit: Tallinn, Estonia

The Estonian Government will host the 2023 OGP Global Summit on September 6-7 in Tallinn, Estonia.

Thumbnail for Estonia’s Journey of Open Government Reforms Champions

Estonia’s Journey of Open Government Reforms

This September, Estonia will host the 8th OGP Global Summit. Explore Estonia’s development through six action plans, and how the government has been able to institutionalize co-creation, public participation, transparency…

Thumbnail for Estonia


Estonia’s sixth action plan is focused and ambitious. It continues the previous action plans’ efforts to increase transparency and civic participation in policy-making, and introduces novel commitments around evidence-based policy-making.…

Open Government Partnership