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OGP Local Takes The Wheel of OGP’s Newest Strategy

Shreya BasuandRudi Borrmann|

For those of us working on OGP Local – a program that has grown from a small pilot of 15 local members in 2017  to more than a 100 members and many more participating in national OGP processes – there is much to be excited about and look forward to in OGP’s 2023–2028 strategy launched this week. 

It is at the local level where the promise of collaboration between government, civil society, and the people leading to strengthened democracy and better societal outcomes can be most meaningfully fulfilled. A glimpse at some of the stories and early results of the innovations adopted by OGP Local members tells us why. 

We have all the elements to create the transformation envisaged in this Partnership-wide strategy for the next five years. Local offers scale and sustainability to achieve OGP’s mission of growing a bigger, stronger and more interconnected movement of reformers and champions taking action together to have real impact.  We see this in the amazing and diverse community of leaders and activists that are the driving force behind a growing community working on issues that have real impact on the lives of people: shelter, accessibility, education, health, gender and women’s rights, climate and environmental democracy, digital public services. 

It is at the local level that we have the opportunity to grow our movement beyond the usual suspects to grassroots and community leaders. In Rosario (Argentina), Luis Ayala and Florencia Torres helped to create the “Citizen Collective for Open Government” to unite several organizations and citizens in the city. In Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas (Ecuador), Eduardo Bejar has helped to develop an action plan to improve services to the rural communities. In Tetouan (Morocco), Abdelmalik Asrih has pushed for an action plan that meaningfully includes people with disabilities. In Ozurgeti (Georgia), Tamar Ghlonti’s work on promoting citizens assemblies has paved the way for stronger open government commitments in the city’s action plan. 

OGP Local also has lessons to offer in new areas of emphasis in the strategy, such as developing a flexible action framework for members and nurturing thematic networks where leaders in the movement inspire others through ambitious action, innovation and support. For example, the OGP Local Circle on Climate Action could serve well as a model also at the national level as we challenge ourselves to take Partnership-wide action on climate change. As with climate, OGP Local can be a driver of innovation in other priority themes of the strategy on tackling corruption, democratizing digital tools and technologies, promoting legal empowerment and access to justice, and advancing public participation, while also focusing on urbanization and other hyperlocal priorities. 

Here are some of the ways in which we will be doubling down on OGP Local over the next five years:

  1. Our efforts to build a stronger, more political coalition for open government will include mayors, governors, public servants, and civil society working at the local level. To this end, we will be hosting the first ever OGP Local Assembly at the Global Summit to be held in Tallinn, Estonia later this year. The Assembly will convene government and civil society leaders from across our membership. Our efforts to develop the leadership skills of current and future champions will also extend to those working at the subnational level. 
  2. We will continue to promote national-local collaboration on key open government reforms. To demonstrate what it can look like, we will invest in a subset of countries that offer opportunities to deepen and intensity such collaboration, and align our support and incentives to enable progress in this area. 
  3. There will be a bigger emphasis on partnerships with local and regional associations or autonomous institutions that work with local governments to support them in becoming advocates and custodians for OGP-like co-creation processes and action plans, adopted at scale and adapted to local needs. This would mean supporting and growing initiatives such as the Moroccan Network of Open Local Governments where more than 60 local governments are working on co-creating open government programs with local civil society. 
  4. With partners, we will offer OGP Local members access to knowledge, peer learning and guidance to take decisive and inspiring action in different areas of the Partnership-wide Challenge which will also be launched in Tallinn during the OGP Global Summit. OGP Local will be front and center in our efforts to capture and share inspiration, stories, evidence and recognize successful reformers and reforms. 
  5. And last but by no means the least, we will continue to grow the OGP Local membership track sustainably, launching a new call for applications later in the year. For the first time ever, local jurisdictions from eligible non-member countries will be invited to apply and we hope to welcome many of them into the Partnership. Watch this space for more!

There’s good reason for us to keep investing in OGP Local. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken rightly said in his keynote address in last month’s Cities Summit of the Americas, where OGP was represented, “On issue after issue, in city after city, local leaders are pointing the way to effective solutions for global challenges”. The Covid-19 pandemic showed us clearly what happens when we don’t invest in our cities, our municipalities, and villages where the lack of swift state response in the face of emergencies is quite literally a matter of life and death. It also showed us the more hopeful and positive flipside – that open local government can bring people from across the fabric of society together to help meet these challenges. 

This is clearly a moment of great alignment within and beyond OGP on the significance of local governments. It is ours to seize and bring our strategy to life with bold ideas and action.

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