The Year Ahead for OGP

2016 was an extraordinarily rich year for OGP.  We celebrated 41 new national OGP action plans, expanded to our first group of subnational participants, had rich regional meetings in Cape Town, Montevideo and Manila, celebrated our 5th anniversary at UNGA, and hosted a major Global Summit, where OGP’s geopolitical role became more prominent than ever in light of dramatic global events.  At the same time, we conducted a major Mid-Term Review and Steering Committee-endorsed Strategic Refresh which provided the strategic priorities for the next phase of OGP (summarized also in my remarks at the Opening Plenary of the Global Summit).  

During 2017 we will be working on the second phase of the Strategic Refresh, focusing on updating the rules of the game of the partnership. In parallel, to continue in the spirit of co-creation, the Governance and Leadership Subcommittee of the OGP Steering Committee has decided to post the first phase of Strategic Refresh document online for public comment for a period of six months on Medium.  While we initiate implementation of the first phase of the refresh as outlined above, we will benefit from the community’s ideas on how we involve other partners in this work.

In this context, that I want to share with you thoughts on four emerging avenues for implementation, through which we are advancing the strategic refresh priorities: (i) country support, (ii) global geo-political positioning, (iii) cross-country thematic leadership; and (iv) governance of the partnership.

Country Support

We need to continue and deepen our support for OGP countries to raise ambition and ensure credible implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) commitments. Consistent with the Strategic Refresh, we need to support countries to deepen citizen participation in policy making and service delivery, broaden collective ownership to tackle the toughest societal challenges (e.g., elite capture, grand corruption and shrinking civic space), and strengthen capacity and coalitions for implementation.

Accordingly, in the Support Unit (SU), we are developing an enhanced menu of services and tools to support countries. It will build on the strong basis of core support the SU has refined over time, including the scaling of some of the most promising new services that we have introduced over the past two years such as targeted peer exchanges and co-creation workshops. The OGP multi-donor trust fund (MDTF) will be a critical supporting instrument for the co-creation and implementation of transformative NAPs.

We will prioritize support for countries developing new action plans in 2017, countries with windows of opportunity (e.g., new administrations) as well as countries at risk (e.g., inactivity, closing civic space).  Importantly, the SU will be rolling out an implementation support toolkit to help countries with the implementation of transformative NAPs. For this, we will mobilize support from around the partnership, including our Steering Committee and strategic partners.

Global Geo-Political Positioning

At the global level, both the Strategic Refresh and Paris Global Summit underscored that the values reflected in the Open Government Declaration are under serious threat. We agreed on the imperative to position OGP as a powerful, positive global movement for openness and deeper democracy, and as a countervailing force against the rise in populism, closing of civic space and distrust in government.

We will need renewed global political leadership of the partnership to advance the open government movement and to convey that we are a strong global coalition of leaders, particularly in the context of looming threats to openness and democracy and our founding governments and civil society leaders rotating off our Steering Committee. As we in the SU create a compelling narrative to position OGP geo-politically - underpinned by results stories and evidence - we will need leaders, ambassadors, envoys and spokespersons throughout the partnership - all of you! - who can be global message carriers. Everyone in the OGP community can and must play a role in advancing the government movement and building this coalition. Consistent with the Strategic Refresh priorities, we will make a big push on strategic communications, disseminating OGP’s value proposition and results stories through TED or other such influential forums, as well as strategic partnerships with the media.

Cross-Country Thematic Leadership & Priorities

Across country and global levels, the Strategic Refresh and Global Summit have highlighted open government norms across key thematic priorities that need to be advanced. The SU will continue to take forward strategic partnerships with organizations (e.g., the Open Contracting Partnership, Transparency International) to provide more support to government and civil society seeking to advance on key policy areas. The Paris Declaration represents a policy instrument through which groups of governments and CSOs are looking to work together to advance open government practices in areas of their thematic leadership.  The OGP Working Groups will have a vital role in supporting these collective actions.

Governance of the Partnership - Rules of the Game

As mentioned above, during 2017, we will be undertaking a refresh of OGP’s rules of the game. The OGP Steering Committee will have to make some important decisions this year: recruitment and election of new SC members and next co-chairs, update of OGP’s rules of the game (including response policy, country reviews, action plan calendar, and the IRM refresh), and next steps on the subnational pilot program in OGP.  

In sum, we have a vitally important year ahead for OGP - truly a make-or-break in terms of  OGP’s geo-political positioning and country impact.  And for all this, a renewed and vigorous leadership and participation of our OGP community will be vital.  We greatly look forward to wholeheartedly supporting the entire partnership to advance our most vital mission in today’s unprecedented times.  

Looking forward to a great year ahead - together!


Authors: Sanjay Pradhan
Filed Under: OGP News