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Remarks By Sanjay Pradhan, Chief Executive Officer, at OGP’s Five-Year Anniversary High-Level Event at the UN General Assembly 71, September 20, 2016

Sanjay Pradhan|

Excellencies, OGP leaders,

As we celebrate OGP’s impressive growth in the first five years, let me invite you to envision that we are gathered here at UNGA five years from now.  We would measure our success then not by the number of countries or commitments, but the extent to which OGP made a real difference in the lives of ordinary citizens.

So how do we get there?  OGP stakeholders have highlighted three key priorities through our ongoing consultations for OGP’s Strategic Refresh.

First, we need deeper co-creation and civic participation.  OGP has a simple but powerful goal that governments should truly serve and empower the citizens.  Government-civil society co-creation lies at the very heart of that promise because civil society amplifies the voice of the voiceless, of ordinary citizens that governments can respond to.  A critical precondition for this is that OGP Heads of States, civil society leaders and partners together protect and enhance civic space which is under attack in many countries. But beyond this, we need to make genuine and inclusive co-creation the global norm that each OGP country needs to role model. And over the next five years, OGP action plans need to go much further to institutionalize citizen participation in policy making, mobilize citizen feedback, including through ICT platforms, on the quality of health, education, and other services that matter most to them, so governments truly respond to the concerns of ordinary citizens.

Second, we need OGP governments and CSOs to join forces to raise collective ambition and spread transformative reforms.  For instance, post-Panama papers the UK convened the Anti-corruption Summit following which OGP peer countries – UK, South Africa, France, Kenya, Norway – took actions on beneficial ownership transparency so there will be no anonymous companies. We need more OGP partners to collectively spread other transformative reforms such as open contracting in Ukraine so all contracts will be open, such as citizens’ social audits in the Philippines so citizens can monitor and report whether public spending is reaching them.  And to raise collective ambition, we need Heads of States to encourage peers in countries with waning political commitment to embrace open government to generate political dividends with their citizenry.

Third, inside OGP countries, we need to broaden collective ownership and participation in OGP, as narrow ownership and awareness is limiting impact. And here, we would request Heads of States to kindly stress to your Cabinets know that open government is a priority, support your Minister in charge, and engage with civil society. You can be the embodiment of OGP and help us all rise to the next level. But more broadly, we need ALL of you – leaders in civil society and governments at all levels – to join hands, forge coalitions and find collective courage to overcome formidable vested interests.  For the next five-year celebration at UNGA, let us measure our success by whether we galvanized a thriving global movement on open government that made a real difference in the lives of ordinary citizens around the globe.

In this movement, youth will play a crucial role. So let us hear now from Haydee Perez, executive director of Fundar in Mexico, one of the many strong and inspiring women from civil society driving the OGP movement.

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