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OGP in the News – Week of January 26, 2017

Jacqueline McGraw |

A series providing a round-up of media attention received by the Open Government Partnership throughout the world.

This week, OGP news coverage featured important updates from some of OGP’s partner organizations and touched on diverse themes, including the “digital revolution” and climate change.

Nigeria-based civil society organization and key OGP partner BudgIT received exciting news: the government transparency watchdog secured a three-year $1.5 million grant from the philanthropic investment firm, Omidyar Network. TheStreet.com in the United States, Bolsamania.com in Spain, and FinanzNachrichten.de in Germany were among some 130 media publications from around the world to spread the good news. Originally published on PR Newswire, the widely-circulated press release quoted BudgIT co-founder Oluseun Onigbinde on the close partnership between BudgIT and OGP that has been instrumental in advancing transparency in Nigeria. “Systemic changes through the Open Government Partnership mechanism are also crucial to our work,” said Onigbinde. Also in Nigeria, TheCable covered Nsima Ekere, head of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and his plan to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with several organizations, including OGP, to fulfill the commission’s overarching goal of “[doing] what is right.”  

In other news, OGP countries topped Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index. Ten out of the 12 countries occupying the top 10 rankings are OGP members with Denmark and New Zealand sharing the title of the least corrupt countries! Press in Sri Lanka, meanwhile, reported a less impressive ranking for the southeast Asian nation, which registered a score of 36/100- 95th place –  lower than its global standing in 2015. Hiru News, Ada Derana, and Dailymirror.lk, among other national news sources, quoted the Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka, Asoka Obeyesekere, stating that “despite the passing of the Right to Information Act and the adoption of the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan, we are yet to see anti-corruption rhetoric leading to strong action.”

In a Medium blog, Andrew Clarke of the Omidyar Network asked a fundamental question for those on the frontline of transparency reform: “Is getting to ‘open’ good enough, or do we need to tear down our outdated institutions and start again?” The author praised OGP as one of the “globally significant milestones” of the open government movement, while examining the limitations of traditional institutions, the difficulty of implementing citizen participation, and concerns about closing civic space. President of the French think tank SYNOPIA, Alexandre Malafaye, co-authored an opinion piece with Fabrice Lorvo in France’s La Tribune that also raised questions about the future of open government. While they recognized the opportunities the “digital revolution” represents for expanding civic space, particularly within open government platforms such as OGP, they nevertheless warned against technology undermining public opinion.

With the historic Paris Climate Agreement just a few months into its implementation cycle, an editorial in Yahoo News! Taiwan underscored the link between carbon emission reduction and open government. The article reported that the Union Commissioner of Taiwanese environmental group Green Citizens’ Action Alliance attended the 2016 OGP Summit, and was impressed by the need for citizen engagement in achieving energy reform.  

In Colombia, W Radio reported that President Juan Manuel Santos signed an “Open State Declaration” during a high-level meeting convened by OGP partners in the country. Committing all branches of government (not just the executive) to maintaining minimum standards of transparency, access to information and open data, the declaration reinforced Santos’ announcement that the fight against corruption will be a key priority.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Intolerancia Diario revealed that Puebla, Mexico Governor-elect Antonio Gali Fayad submitted several initiatives to be approved next week by the Board of Government and Political Coordination. One of the initiatives aims to elevate the level of the office of transparency by creating a decentralized public body on transparency and open government that will assure compliance with OGP guidelines.

Gulmina Bilal Ahmad, Executive Director of consultancy and advocacy group, Individualland Pakistan, penned an opinion piece for the English-language daily Pakistan Today, outlining steps Pakistan can take to successfully engage in OGP. Crediting Pakistani civil society with the country’s ascension to OGP, Bilal highlighted the value of OGP for both civil society and government:

The OGP forum provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to civil society organisations and their respective governments for engagement to improve their country’s image in the international arena through good governance, more transparency, accountability and improved mechanisms to reduce corruption.

Finally, coverage of #OGP16 continues!. At the Global Summit, France’s Canal France International (CFI) welcomed 50 journalists from Francophone Africa to participate in an Open Data Médias masterclass program. Full-News.info featured a piece by Tobias C. Souleyman, a participant from Togo, who described the practical advice offered by CFI director Étienne Fiatte, while Cameroonian participant Madeleine Ngeunga  authored a blog about the significant work Sub-Saharan Africa has yet to do in implementing open data practices.   

And last but not least, OGP has been conducting a blog series over the past few months full of #opengov wisdom from Canadian youth in Ottawa who have been studying the link between communication and government. Catch the latest insights from The Next Generation (of Canadians) here!

Of course, we can’t catch everything in our news round-ups, so if you see we’ve missed something or think a particular story ought to be featured, please send it to jacqueline.mcgraw@opengovpartnership.org.

 

Filed Under: OGP News