What does the Financing for Development Framework mean for OGP?
Like many international organizations the Open Government Partnership (OGP) has been digesting the outcomes of the Addis Financing for Development meeting. At a basic level it is reassuring to see the outcome document referencing the work of OGP as a tool for improving the quality of governance and government services. More fundamentally it appears the meeting was discussing the right issues, with an agenda that addressed how countries can efficiently and openly raise and spend their own resources for sustainable development.
There has been criticism that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda is light on concrete plans to help deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is where OGP can play a role. Just one month after the UN General Assembly, where the SDGs will be agreed, the third OGP summit will take place in Mexico City from 27-29 October. This will be the perfect moment for the 66 countries participating in OGP to make a collective commitment that they will use future national action plans in part to implement policies that will drive progress towards meeting the SDGs. Countries may chose to focus on the proposed ‘governance goal 16’ or address other goals which have elements of transparency, accountability or public participation. Unlike summit communiqués, OGP plans are focused on action and delivery, with an accountability mechanism in place to monitor whether commitments are being delivered. The process also requires an equal seat at the table for civil society, making it a true partnership model which recognises that governments do not have a monopoly on good ideas.
OGP countries may choose to go even further, and commit to publishing three times a year all of their spending, actuals and outcomes related to meeting the SDGs. This would place the 66 OGP countries at the forefront of efforts to hold governments accountable for their commitment and progress on the post-2015 development agenda as a whole. If you can’t follow the money, government isn’t open. And being able to follow the money through to results will sharpen accountability for progress towards the SDGs. This would be a marked step forward from the monitoring and evaluation framework of the Millennium Development Goals, which was generally weak.
A welcome consensus has also developed around the need for better, more open data to monitor progress toward the SDGs. A Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data will be launched in September, with the support of civil society organizations like the ONE campaign and Civicus. This has strong overlap with what many OGP countries are trying to achieve. A true data revolution requires the hard, often unheralded, work of strengthening national statistics offices, improving access to information commissions, proactively publishing government data sets and ensuring a coherent records management system is in place. Policies to achieve those things are to be found in many OGP national action plans, with implementation ongoing. This is the data revolution in action, not just on paper.
Strengthening the links between OGP and other international processes will ultimately be beneficial to reformers in government and civil society who want to deliver for their citizens. There are no shortage of good intentions in international diplomacy, be it the UN Convention Against Corruption, G20 communiqués or the Addis Ababa Agenda for Action. OGP should now position itself as the forum for action and delivery of those good intentions at the national level. In many countries the openness agenda has experienced rapid growth of support in recent years. That support will grow even further if OGP countries become the vanguard for delivery of the SDGs.
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