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Faces of Open Government: Rakesh Rajani

Rostros del gobierno abierto: Rakesh Rajani

Visages du gouvernement ouvert : Rakesh Rajani

Rakesh Rajani|

In 2011, leaders in government and civil society came together to ask how we can better work side by side to tackle persistent problems and turn good ideas into real actions. To realize and maintain meaningful change so that the government works for all, not just the most powerful. As OGP celebrates its 10th anniversary, we sat down with Rakesh Rajani, an open gov advocate who has been involved with OGP since its inception.


You’ve been involved in OGP since the early days and watched it grow from a Partnership of just a few countries and civil society partners to 78 countries, 76 local governments and thousands of civil society organizations. How has open government changed in the last decade? 

The world has changed and become much more closed and authoritarian — from the U.S. to the U.K., Brazil to the Philippines, and my own country Tanzania. This shows that democratic values and open government can never be taken for granted; they need to be owned by and championed by both elites and ordinary citizens. Lofty words will only take you so far in light of deepening inequality, misogyny and racism. We need to connect more deeply with constituencies, do long-term organizing, and help rebuild a practical social compact that provides tangible services and hope. 

Since joining OGP you’ve held a variety of roles from OGP civil society co-chair to open government envoy. What have been some of your proudest moments working with the OGP community?

There are many. Co-creating a global platform where government leaders and civil society have equal voice and votes in the highest governance body. Deepening the diversity of civil society actors — engaging more feminists, more from the Global South, critics of the OGP model. Establishing a core mechanism involving countries making commitments that are independently assessed — and published — for meaningfulness and delivery. And through all these, helping advance the idea that government needs to work for people, not the other way round. 

As OGP gears up for the next ten years, starting with the OGP Global Summit in December, what would you like to see in the next decade of OGP?

The risk is that OGP becomes a complacent club of the converted few. How do we get other constituencies who care about justice — such as women rights activists or education reformers or green economy advocates — come to see OGP as a critical platform to achieve their goals and have lasting impact at scale? The fact is that we will not be able to meet any of our social justice goals at scale without governments being open, inclusive, representative, responsive and accountable. Our dreams can be realized so much more when we ensure that we are government and government is us. Getting that core idea to have traction broadly across society, and organizing practical action to make it real, is a core challenge for the next decade. 

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