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Fostering peer exchange and learning in the European Region

Alonso Cerdan|

Tomorrow the first ever European Region Government Point of Contact (POC) conference will begin in Tbilisi, Georgia. This conference will bring together more than 50 public servants from 21 Open Government Partnership (OGP) participating countries in order to share experiences, learn from each other and build stronger networks of government reformers.

Government points of contact are the civil servants responsible for all OGP activities within a country: from drafting new action plans with civil society, to liaising with Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) researchers and everything in between. Since they are in such an important position the Support Unit has hosted “POC Camps” as side events during the Americas and Africa regional meetings in order to provide updates, showcase the resources available to them and encourage peer exchange. However, the Tbilisi conference is our first ever stand alone two-day Government POC meeting and we plan to make the most of all the time we will have.

We have rallied all available resources in order to build an agenda that enhances participation and learning opportunities. Throughout the two days we will mix short specific work sessions with longer and broader workshops. The IRM will lead a session on learning from the reports that will allow POCs to see where they stand relative to their peers and to inspire more effective and impactful commitments. The Civil Society Engagement team has developed a highly interactive session on permanent consultation fora and how countries have used them to strengthen multi-stakeholder engagement and to promote innovation and accountability in their Action Plans. The seven countries that are due to deliver their new National Action Plans in the following month will present their draft Action Plans in lightening talks that allow them receive feed-back from their colleagues, the five OGP working groups and multilateral representatives.

The conference will also feature two three-hour workshops on key OGP topics. The social impact firm Reboot will lead a workshop that will help POCs to identify the main challenges they face when coordinating with other government agencies and to develop strategies in order to overcome those challenges. During the second day, the OpenGov Guide and the Support Unit will facilitate a workshop on building stronger commitments in areas such as public participation, legislative openness, access to information, fiscal transparency, and public service delivery.

The Conference will be inaugurated by Mr Irakli Gharibashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia and will include speeches by Steering Committee ministerial representatives Ms. Thea Tsulukiani, Minister of Justice of Georgia and M. Thierry Mandon, Secretary of State for Government Reform and Simplification, Office of the Prime Minister, France.

Changing the culture of government is not easy. However, as we highlighted in our video, we want to connect people within the governments that are willing to try new things and share what they know; we want to develop a community that finds innovative ways to face common challenges; and finally, we want to provide an opportunity for these local reformers to meet and connect so they can find inspiration and support just by picking up the phone.

Image Credit: Nicolas de Camaret

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