Open Government for Sustainable Development in Asia-Pacific: Results are in!

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Earlier this summer, the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub and OGP launched a call for information on open government initiatives that are contributing to or have the potential to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Asia-Pacific region.  

The call was developed in response to major milestones that have been achieved in the last year. In September 2015, all 193 UN member countries endorsed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the UN General Assembly. More than 50 OGP countries have since endorsed the Joint Declaration on Open Government for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, committing to use OGP infrastructure and National Action Plans to help achieve the SDGs.

With this as the background, the idea behind launching the call was simple: to find practical examples of open governance supporting the SDGs, that have already been or are being tested on the ground with signs of positive results, and share them so that others can take inspiration from and learn from these examples.

In order to qualify, initiatives had to meet the following criteria:

  • Government and civil society are actively working together to promote transparency, accountability, and/or citizen engagement, either at the national or subnational level

  • The initiatives contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and demonstrate measurable results

  • The initiatives aim at leaving no one behind: marginalized groups, the poor, minorities, women, young people, people with disabilities… are part of the process and/or benefit from the reform

  • The initiatives are based on innovative approaches, methodologies and/or use of new technologies

The response was fantastic. We received over 40 applications from 15 countries in the Asia Pacific region (both within and outside of the Open Government Partnership) within a three-week time frame. Initiatives ranged from involving citizens in auditing public service delivery, increasing access to justice for victims of environmental pollution,  using mobile technologies to allow citizens and CSOs to monitor activity in the extractives sector, to improving the ease of doing business and linking parliamentarians to rural communities. And that’s just naming a few!

A big thank you to everyone who applied – it was heartening to learn about all the inspiring ways in which transparency and open government are being used as tools for achieving transformative changes in the lives of citizens.  Overall, we found that open government initiatives are most successful in contributing to SDGs when they:

  • Institutionalize partnerships between governments and civil society

  • Provide platforms to hear the people’s voice, especially marginalized communities

  • Utilize user-friendly, simple, and accessible technologies

  • Go beyond traditional government statistics to produce demand-side data and promote its use

  • Are replicable across sectors and across countries

The following 3 initiatives were judged as the top entries, and were featured at the recently concluded 2016 OGP Asia Pacific Regional Dialogue, which brought together around 100 reformers working on open government across the Asia Pacific region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The call for information revealed  several other exciting open government projects that the international community can learn from  

  • Check My School (ANSA-EAP, Philippines) - A participatory monitoring initiative that measures quality of educational services, allowing citizens to input feedback on teachers, textbooks, and achievement tests, as well as measuring related concerns like student health and procurement deliveries

  • Access to Justice for Citizens impacted by Environmental pollution (American Bar Association, Rule of Law Initiative, China) - A judicial access initiative that helps civil society protect the environment and citizens rights, while training lawyers and invested citizens and improving capacity for environmental governance in China

  • Open Mining: Bridging Extractive Data and the People (Publish What You Pay, Indonesia) - An application that allows citizens to view data on extractives industry activity in Indonesia, tracking location and revenue to maximize accountability and transparency

  • Virtual Zomdu: Bringing Parliament to the People of Bhutan (UNDP, Bhutan) -An online initiative that allows citizens to directly interface with parliamentarians and politicians at the national level to voice their concerns and address national/community issues

  • Ease of Doing Business Portal (Makati Business Club/ National Competitiveness Council, Philippines) - An online platform in Manila, Philippines, which publicizes and disseminates data on starting and running a business, with plans to scale up operations to the national level

  • Local Target/Local Government Unit Scorecards (Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippines) - A performance management mechanism that gives local government units (LGUs) ratings depending on citizen feedback and satisfaction with local services

  • Transparent Cities Network (Citizen consumer and Civic Action Group India) - An initiative that helps citizens collect data on government services in their localities, while training governments to build capacity to improve data to serve the needs of the poorest in society

Congratulations to all the contributors. All the above initiatives will be featured in a series of blogs in the coming months. Watch this space for more.

To learn more about UNDP’s work on open government and learn about other projects that are using the principles of transparency, accountability and public participation in implementing and monitoring the SDGs, see here.

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Other pieces in our OGP-UNDP Series can be found here:

 

Filed Under: Impact