As the Annual Summit of the Open Government Partnership was getting closer and closer, the call for organizing remote hubs or local events in OGP member countries launched early October looked into bringing more local voice into the Summit itself.
The aim was to bring together different stakeholders engaged in OGP at country level, discuss and reflect on the progress made as part of the Action Plans (if the country is already implementing one); look at the priorities that should be reflected in the next Action Plan (if the country is at that level); analyze key challenges and lessons emerged out of these processes since joining the OGP; look into future opportunities that are worth exploring in the future and many more … In one word, these events aimed to serve as an evocation to the Summit – they allowed participants to ask/raise questions as well as to get more familiar with the key priorities of the Summit and ways to participate remotely@Summit.
As a result of this call, local events were organized in three OGP member countries! Interestingly enough, each local experience has been different not only by the nature of the discussions and issues addressed, but by the format as well.
In Moldova, a local event was organized by bringing different stakeholders around the table to look into the challenges related to the implementation of OG commitments along with other issues. In Costa Rica, a video was produced which highlights both current situation and future priorities related to OGP. In Guatemala a webinar was organized around Open government and Open Data for Municipalities.
Details about each of these experiences will be shared soon in a separate OGP Blog post, meanwhile, if one would ask me about the lessons learned as a result of this call for local events, these lessons would be the following:
- it is not the quantity but the quality that matters, however, I must admit that I was a little more optimistic about the number of local events that would be organized ;
- it is an indication that much more efforts are needed in OGP member countries to build the momentum around Open Government;
- it is clear that Civil Society organizations need support to be able to keep track of what’s going on with the Open Government Agenda in their respective countries and have practical tools to engage in a much deeper way in these processes;
- it is opportune to think about creating space for national, multi-stakeholder OGP platforms that would be the drivers of the OG agenda regardless of the fact that there is an upcoming Annual OGP Summit or not;
- it is obvious that Open Government is not yet part of the thinking or of the culture in several OGP member countries, and new values take time to be shared and followed in any society;
- it is extremely important to support the work of champions in the field (civil society, Government, private sector, media, etc) and capitalize on their experiences to be able to project the future priorities in the sector.
To conclude, the stories of future remote hubs or so called ‘local events’ might be even more optimistic if they come from multi-stakeholder national platforms which manage to respond to the limited capacity and resources of civil society, which are ‘pressurizing’ for more accountability, ownership and ambition over the Open Government commitments and which ‘externalize’ both the challenges as well as pragmatic solutions for the ways forward.
By being part of OGP we are part of its story as well! The degree to which this story is an optimistic, positive and insipiring one does also depend on each and every one of us!