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Sunlight in the Asia-Pacific: Open Government for the Sustainable Development Goals

Shreya Basu|

This blog is part of a series on how open government can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The series came out of a collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Bangkok Regional Hub and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) to find practical examples of how open government is helping countries achieve the SDGs in the Asia-Pacific region. For more details on the competition, the blog series, and how open government can help achieve the SDGs, please see our introductory blog post.

In mid-2016, the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub and OGP launched a potential.

The three top initiatives, showing real action on Goal 16, towards more inclusive and effective institutions,were presented at the Asia-Pacific Regional Dialogue at the Asian Development Bank in Manila in July 2016.

Mongolia’s Check My Service initiative, which recently won an OGP Award at the Global Summit in Paris, serves citizens by creating a solid feedback loop: teaching citizens how to effectively seek out and assess public services, and working with the government to improve the quality of the services in response to citizen feedback. So far, Check My Service has evaluated 84 different services, and served thousands of people.

In Nepal, the Community Initiatives for Common Understanding aims to create inclusive dialogue and budget planning mechanisms for disadvantaged community groups, who are typically overlooked by community elites or local government. The program has been initiated in 15 different Village Development Committees across the country and has reached over 26,000 community members, with extensive involvement from women, minority groups, young people and different castes.

The Citizen Satisfaction Index from Pakistan seeks citizen input on public services to improve service delivery and close the feedback loop between citizen complaint and government response. The initial polling sample will cover over 12,000 respondents. Data from the index will be available online, allowing all citizens to see the complaints and recommendations, as well as the government’s response.

In addition to these three initiatives, we featured seven more notable projects in our blog series.

From the Philippines, we featured three initiatives: Seal of Good Local Governance, which encourages local governments to improve transparency and accountability for citizens by creating an incentive-based competition to improve service delivery.

Two of the initiatives looked at innovative, people-centered approaches to solving environmental problems. China’s Open Mining” smartphone application provides information on mining concessions, as well as a mechanism for citizen complaint and government response that is integrated into Indonesia’s existing citizen complaint mechanism, LAPOR.

Two other initiatives focused on bringing communities closer to the civil servants and parliamentarians that serve them. In Bhutan, Transparent Cities Network is educating those in low-wage jobs – trash-collecting, tuk-tuk driving, and others – to work together to create formal and informal networks to improve the quality of the services they provide and their own collective welfare while also working with municipal governments to identify and address barriers to the equitable provision of municipal services.

Several of these initiatives are in advanced stages of implementation and have already begun to show concrete results while others are in early stages, currently being incubated or tested and expected to move into the implementation phase in the near future. As is the case for all open government reforms,  the mettle of these initiatives will be tested by their sustainability and ability to continue to deliver results for citizens. We hope to continue to track these initiatives,  share updates on their progress and lessons learned, and see them multiplying and improving societies around the world. Watch this space for more.

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