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The Future of Local Open Gov: Reflections from the UCLG Congress

El futuro del gobierno abierto local: reflecciones desde el congreso de CGLU

José María Marín|

On October 10-14, the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) held its 7th World Congress in Daejeon, Republic of Korea. The Congress brought together representatives from local, regional, and national governments, civil society, academia and the international community to reflect on the current context and the role of local and regional governments in facing the challenges affecting their communities.

The Pact for the Future: The Daejeon Declaration is the key outcome document adopted by the UCLG Congress. With the Pact,  local and regional governments re-state their commitment to take decisive action to tackle climate change, fight discrimination, guarantee human rights, and address inequality through fair and equal opportunities for all. It also acknowledges the important role a “well-informed, critical and empowered citizenship” will play in reimagining our future and the importance of a healthy civic space composed of “a free media, freedom of expression, agency and critical thinking”.

As a result, adherents to the Pact committed to “promote informed and sustained citizen’s participation in public life and  decision-making promoting freedom of speech and conscience and  artistic expression” and “foster open, accessible and verifiable information and data to promote inclusion, education and communication.”

The Pact for the Future reflects the need for more open local and regional governments. In a session led by OGP Local, we discussed the future of open government in local and regional governments. This session highlighted the need for adopting ambitious commitments to restore trust between governments, people and the private sector. We also explored the opportunities that proximity provides for greater impact of open government approaches and how an open government for all, includes adopting reforms that allow persons with disabilities to engage in public life as well. 

Trust in the local sphere is important, and open government is an essential approach to rebuild trust. This was discussed at the town hall on trust and government, with specific examples of how open government approaches, like accessible participation spaces, timely and accurate public information, and effective accountability mechanisms, have contributed to restoring trust in many local and regional governments. At the town hall, the General Assembly of Partners (GAP), Fixed Africa, International IDEA, UN-Habitat, New York Office, and the Youth, Feminist, and Accessibility Caucuses together with OGP launched a new policy paper, which calls for a new social contract based on the principles of open government, among others. It also contains practical recommendations on open government reforms that can be adopted by local governments.  

The UCLG World Congress brought  local and regional governments together to sketch the vision for a brighter future for local communities. This can only be achieved by implementing innovative initiatives to tackle the most pressing issues faced by humanity. Among these initiatives, open government is key to renew trust, increase coordination and effectiveness, and tap into the collective intelligence of all citizens to find viable solutions. At OGP Local, we are seeing how over 100 local governments, along with civil society, are already taking up this challenge and implementing open government reforms as part of the path forward to a more equitable and sustainable future.

 

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