Open Government Partnership

Scotland on the international stage – the open government global summit

August 13, 2018 by No Comments | Category Uncategorized

We went all the way to Georgia, and what did we learn? Our big takeaways from the global summit on open government to share with you.

Over 2,000 people gathered in Tbilisi, Georgia for the Global Summit of the Open Government Partnership  in July 2018. The gathering over 3 days is a chance for all 90 countries and governments that are part of the international open government movement to meet, share ideas, be inspired and learn from each other.

Two of our colleagues from the Open Government team at Scottish Government were lucky enough to be there, along with a large delegation from Scotland – including representatives from civil society, the OGP Scotland Steering Group and also the Scottish Information Commissioner. Scotland was well represented at this international event. This helped promote to Scotland, and our reputation for innovation, prepared to experiment and test out ideas on open government. Read on for details of some open pubolic discussion meetings later this month in Dundee, Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh where you can get involved.

Logo of OGP Georgia Summit #OGPGeorgia

Sharing the Scottish experience

We were there to learn from others and to present some of the work Scotland is doing on open government, hosting and attending sessions which teased out some of the different ideas, challenges and examples of good practice around openness and participation.

Our team hosted a session on civic participation, bringing together experts from across the globe to explore ways for people to get involved in the decisions that affect their lives – through the lens of experiences on three continents. We concentrated on practical tips and examples from places all round the world: Secondi Takoradi in Ghana, Austin in Texas, Paris, Scotland, Tbilisi in Georgia, and the Basque Country in Spain. The golden thread running through the work in all of these places was clear and really struck a chord with the audience. All had found ways to work with and for people. The means and methods discussed may have been different, but whether they were deliberative, design thinking or digital, all these examples were civil socity and governments making efforts aimed to rebuild trust in the service or government. Collectively, our top tips for getting it right were making participation relevant, reaching out to people where they are, approaching them with openness, honesty and empathy, really listening and feeding back the outcomes. And it was voted as one of the most useful and interesting events of the summit!

Our partners from Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) also hosted a discussion looking at how the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be supported by Open Government, sharing Scotland’s experience of aligning our National Performance Framework with the SDGs, an open government commitment in our last plan. And co-chair of the Scottish OGP steering Group, Lucy McTernan, took part in a panel discussion on how open government can work in decentralised and devolved countries, an issue very close to our heart after we hosted the first UK OGP summit earlier this year.

OGP Georgia welcome sign

Hot topics dominating discussions – should Scotland be thinking about these issues?

Over the 3 days of the conference, there were some subjects that came up again and again. Some of these key themes included;

  • gender equality: how can open government commitments help address inequalities? In Scotland we have the First Ministers Advisory Council on Women and Girls – is there a role for open government in supporting these aims?
  • How can open government help address the reductions in public and/or civic space both online and physically? This is discussed in more detail in a recent report from the Open Government Partnership support team.
  • What are governments doing to include citizens in governance and decision-making? And how does civil society support this?
  • Technical issues such as beneficial ownership, financial transparency and open contracting again were big themes – we’re hearing some of these themes from people in Scotland on our ideas site and events, what initiatives might work in Scotland?
  • For the first time OGP also supported youth involvement in open government at the summit. Given 2018 is Scotland’s Year of Young People, how could we be involving young people?

We’re keen to hear if these themes chime for you in a Scottish context so please let us know what you think and if these issues should be included in Scotland’s next action plan, being currently developed now till September.

Welcome banners at conference

What did we get out of the experience?

Sharing learning is the principal purpose of the OGP summits, we undoubtedly benefitted from being represented. Not only from the formal events, but as with so much in life, it was the opportunity for networking, it’s particularly valuable to be able to speak to NGO leaders who have little presence in Scotland, and to government officials from all over the world. To have conversations with people we don’t meet every day but who are facing similar barriers and challenges who have come up with solutions that we may not have tried. This may feed into future commitments for our own plan, or help with solutions to common challenges, such as how we support organisational culture to be more open and transparent in the face of a world where democracy is in retreat.

We also found out about some interesting publications

  • open contracting mythbusting report
  • newly-launched Catalog produced by an organisation called CrowdLaw. It features 100+ cases of participatory lawmaking from 39 countries. See @bethnoveck on Twitter for more.
  • launch of CitizENGAGE, a storytelling website for open government:

View from venue across Georgia city

Do you think any of these ideas should be included in Scotland’s commitments on open government?

Could any of these ideas work here? Should we be thinking about these themes and ideas? Let us know: be part of creating the Action plan on open government, being drafted from now till Sept – tell us your ideas now! Submit an idea online here: or come to one of our upcoming events:

  • Dundee – Thursday 9th August, 1-3.30pm (includes lunch and teas/coffee) More info here
  • Glasgow – Monday 13th August, 1-3.30pm (includes lunch and teas/coffee) More info here
  • Inverness – Wednesday 15th August, 1-3.30pm (includes lunch and teas/coffee) Register here
  • Edinburgh – Thursday 16th August, 1-3.30pm (includes lunch and teas/coffee) Register here COSLA (Council of Scottish Local Authorities) hosted event on open government and participatory budgeting
  • Edinburgh – Tuesday 21st August, 9.30am arrivals, event 10am-1pm Register here (includes lunch and teas/coffee) Final event: to bring together all the ideas from across Scotland, and identify the key priorities for shaping the commitments to go into the final Action Plan.

We need to hear your expertise and your experience. Play your part in shaping the future of openness in Scotland now.

Find out more about the OGP here:
Find out more about the Tbilisi, Georgia summit here:


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