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From Regional to Local: Local Governments in Europe

De lo regional a lo local: Gobiernos locales de Europa

Mercedes Nasiff|

The European open government community met at the OGP Europe Regional Meeting in Rome, Italy at a critical time when democracy and open government are under threat externally from events such as the Russian invasion and internally from a growing lack of citizen trust. It’s no surprise that issues like democratic participation, digital innovation, and anti-corruption were at the top of the agenda. But these issues are best addressed with local governments at the forefront.

36 representatives of 23 OGP Local members gave voice to their jurisdictions in six different important thematic discussions. They shared stories of their communities that demonstrate how crucial the local level is to democracy. Armavir’s (Armenia) town hall meetings and public hearings, Ozurgeti’s (Georgia) participatory budgeting, and Basque Country’s (Spain) Open Eskola are a few examples of citizens’ involvement in shaping the future of local communities. 

The role and importance of local governments are increasing as the global context evolves. Due to their closeness to citizens, local governments are the first to adapt and respond to the people’s needs.

“We received 120 success stories from all the regions of Ukraine where communities described how local authorities and citizens cooperate so that they can save lives.” – Oleksandr Slobozhan, Executive Director of the Association of Ukrainian Cities.

Local governments are the first in line and it is imperative to strengthen them and increase their voices in global agendas. To make this possible, OGP, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, and the Association of Ukrainian Cities signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing to support the reconstruction of local jurisdictions in Ukraine as they recover from the ongoing war and cooperate in the co-creation of more open, inclusive and sustainable local policies. 

Local civil society organizations play a crucial part in the mission of achieving more democratic governments. They can introduce innovative tools to engage and empower citizens, as in Ozurgeti, or can support in building bridges between the government and the youth, as in Euskadi. It’s the local organizations, the ones closest to citizens, that can impact the most in people’s life. 

“As civil society, we empower citizens and help solve their issues. OGP Local helps us to institutionalize best practices and innovative approaches that we have been trying to introduce at the local level”- Tamar Ghlonti, Executive Director of the Institute for Change and Innovation, Ozurgeti, Georgia

“We need to go local and get closer to citizens”. Lucy McTernan, a member of the Scottish Open Government Partnership and OGP Steering Committee

We need to continue to strengthen local governments and civil society organizations, as well as guarantee democratic, participative, and innovative governments. OGP Local offers spaces of dialogue and exchange so jurisdictions from all over the world can learn from each other and push for more open governments at the local, national, and regional levels. At the event, OGP Local members created and shaped communities of practice to address some of the most pressing challenges through digital openness, innovation, inclusion, climate action, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

If you want to be part of one of the Local Circles, you can sign-up to receive more information by filling out this form or join the OGP Local Slack group.

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