The Open Government Partnership (OGP) was launched in 2011 with a pledge by members to be more open and accountable, and to uphold the highest standards of integrity. At the time, there was a sense of hope and optimism about harnessing the role of new technologies to bring governments closer to people and a belief that by working together, everyone – despite different starting points – could make progress on ambitious reforms to tackle societal challenges. In the contest between open and closed government, OGP’s ambition was to tip the balance in favor of openness.
In its eleven years, OGP has evolved to respond to the changes in its environment and to lessons learned. Together, we have grown to a global platform including 76 countries, over 100 local governments and thousands of civil society organizations. Local governments, parliaments, judiciaries and accountability institutions have become involved in OGP.Reformers in OGP have shown that – when the founding principles of OGP are upheld – transformative change is possible. GovChat in South Africa, OpenCoesione in Italy, A Tu Servicio in Uruguay, Citizen Participatory Audits in the Philippines, Prozorro in Ukraine, and DecideMadrid in Spain are but a few examples of powerful, lasting reforms that originated in OGP processes, and have been fundamental game changers in their contexts, inspiring others to follow. In its first decade, the Partnership has also succeeded in forging connections between the access to information and open data communities, those working on sectoral policies, and advocates for greater participation and inclusion. With partners, we have helped accelerate adoption of policies and reforms in access to information, open contracting, beneficial ownership and extractive transparency among other areas. Ten years of evidence shows that the core model works – when civil society is involved in designing and implementing OGP action plans, commitments are more ambitious, better implemented, and produce more changes in government practices and result in better outcomes for people.
But, at the same time, the wider environment has continued to deteriorate. It has been a period marked by a steady decline in democracy and civil liberties, and a corresponding decrease – reaching an all-time low – in citizens’ trust in government. As grand promises to “leave no one behind” were left unfulfilled, people’s discontent has been stoked by authoritarian leaders and distrust has been fueled by the spread of misinformation and disinformation. The result has been to render democratic institutions weaker and more vulnerable to internal and external threats. Beyond this crisis of democracy, governments around the world are grappling with the convergence of other complex challenges, including climate change, war, economic instability, security challenges and uncertainty in global energy supplies. The magnitude and concurrence of these challenges make it vital to act with urgency.
It is clear that we must build on our current approaches and successes and learn from our failures. As the headwinds get stronger, we have to double down on making open government the norm in governance. OGP is made up of thousands of relentless, creative and inspiring trailblazers, innovators and deeply committed reformers striving to make a difference. Despite occasional fatigue with processes and plans, a growing number of actors are engaging with the Partnership. Transformative change will only be possible with their sustained commitment and leadership. The opportunity before us is to harness the collective insight and energy of all the different parts that make up OGP and reimagine it as an even bolder, more positive, values-based partnership that can help chart a more hopeful future.
It is with this backdrop that OGP set out to develop a new strategy for the Partnership for the next five years, embarking on the most comprehensive community engagement process to date, and aspiring to live up to OGP’s own Participation and Co-Creation Standards. The OGP community has risen to the task remarkably, providing rich, nuanced and inspired ideas for how the Partnership can reinvent itself to be fit-for-purpose now and for the future. The strategy that follows is a product of the community's – your – collective wisdom and the lessons learned in the first decade of OGP.