Open Government Partnership
Open Government Partnership Regional Meeting 2022- Rome reflections
This is a blog from our Head of Open Government, Doreen Grove, reflecting on the recent Open Government Partnership Regional meeting in Rome.
For the first time since Covid 19 came into our lives, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) has held face to face meetings. This year there was a meeting for the Americas, for Asia and Africa and another for members in Europe. The purpose of the meetings are to bring together open government champions and stakeholders to energise the community, raise collective ambition and generate new political support to make governments more transparent, accountable and responsive to citizens. The meetings are also a place to address current regional and global challenges.
I attended the Europe Regional Meeting in Rome on 11-12th October. Scotland was well represented by Patrick Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, Lucy McTernan, the Civil society Co-Chair in Scotland and me. The meeting was co-hosted by the Governments of Italy and Estonia and included a hand over of the co-chairs of the international steering committee of OGP. The Government of Italy and Aidan Eyakuze (Twaweza) for civil society, handed over the co-chair roles to the Government of Estonia and Anabel Cruz (Institute for Communication and Development).
Mr Harvie spoke in one of the key workshops titled ‘Embedding Participation in Climate Policy-Making’ alongside contributors from Denmark, Ukraine and France. In addition, he also had discussions with government ministers from Estonia, Finland, Kosovo and Norway. These meetings were to exchange experiences of open government and how we can advance our climate activity through OGP action plans. The meeting was also an opportunity to build on the collaborative relationship with the Open Government Partnership Nordic+ group, of which Scotland is a member.
Key themes and discussion points
The meeting brought together more than 250 people from across Europe. It included governments representatives (both political and executive), civil society activists, academics and stakeholder organisations from the European members of OGP. There was a strong formal agenda which addressed some of the key OGP themes:
- digital innovation
- democratic participation
The agenda included the development of the new 5-year strategy for the Partnership which is designed to make sure open government principles are applied in areas such as climate change and tackling poverty.
All of that was of course important, but more than anything what this event reminded me was the value of informal conversations that happen- when you meet someone with a new perspective over coffee, in the corridor, or snatched between workshops. Online calls simply can’t replace those networking opportunities for meeting like-minded allies. OGP are past masters at providing opportunities for people to mingle, and you are as likely to share a coffee with a minister from Norway as you are with an inspirational leader from an NGO in Romania, Latvia or Spain.
There is a link to the recording of the plenary session, including an inspirational address by Sanjay Pradhan, OGP Chief Executive Officer (CEO), followed by statements from Italian and Estonian ministers. But for most delegates it was the following session which reminded us why Open Government matters. Representatives from civil society and both local and central government in Ukraine set out how they had not only continued their Open Government work but illustrated the bravery of the mayors who are supporting their communities at huge cost to themselves and their families. Ukraine has led in OGP on fiscal transparency for a number of years, but their commitment to continuing this work despite the war and the assault on their democracy is truly inspirational.