15 Subnational Governments Explore Actions to Bring Open Government to the Local Level
With widespread urbanization and growing climate impacts, the need for effective, accountable local government has never been greater. Creating open governments at the local level can directly improve citizens’ lives because many crucial public services, innovations and reforms are administered locally. Greater transparency and active community engagement in policy deliberations and decision making can make local governments more responsive and accountable.
15 pioneer governments from cities, municipalities, states, provinces and countries came together September 15-16, 2016 for a workshop with the Open Government Partnership's (OGP) Subnational Pilot Program to share experiences and ideas to make open government a reality. The workshop, which took place in Washington, D.C., gave the governmental actors the opportunity to strengthen emerging commitments in subnational action plans and offered advice on ensuring ongoing, strong civil society partnerships throughout implementation.
WRI presented about the need for commitments to open government and innovations at the local level around transport data, road safety and air quality. WRI also worked with subnational government pioneers to understand what a commitment around these topics could look like and how to go about implementing them. As participants in the OGP, these 15 governments are currently working with local civil society organizations to develop specific action plan commitments that they will launch at the December OGP Global Summit in Paris.
A Platform for Supporting Better, More Open Government at the Local Level
An international platform to help make governments become more open, reliable and responsive to citizens, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) has—through WRI’s leadership—expanded to include, for the first time, subnational governments. Open government principles of transparency, accountability, participation and open data are essential to the success of sustainable urban development. Working with civil society and local governments to pursue more open government will enable more sustainable outcomes.
The significance of the new program is its central focus on subnationals—regions, provinces and cities are formally recognized as key actors in addressing global challenges and producing innovative solutions to problems at the local level. The program has brought to light, and will continue to bring to light, the different ways cities address issues such as climate change, transportation, budgeting and public health. The aim is to bring together civil society and governments to create open government action plans that outline specific steps toward making government more transparent and accountable with respect to data, civic participation and decision making at the local level.
The subnational pilot is, in part, designed to diversify commitments to the OGP and to promote new approaches to open government. The DC workshop focused on how open government is relevant to the provision of public services, interesting approaches to citizen engagement and how to make open government significant to other realms of government.
Highlight Local Government Successes on the Global Stage
As a result of this workshop, and the collaborative action plans, commitments will be made to address areas of improvement necessary for citizens’ quality of life and their relationship with the government.
Starting on October 1, 2016, WRI will serve as the civil society chair of the OGP steering committee alongside the government co-chair, the Government of France. As a co-chair, WRI will prioritize subnational governments to improve actions on transparency, anti-corruption, climate change and sustainable development. Furthermore, WRI will work with the OGP Support Unit at a global level while WRI Brazil, WRI Mexico and WRI Indonesia will support local governments.
While the workshop lasted two days, its impacts and successes will be measured over the course of the coming months, as subnational governments make transformative commitments to create more open government and then implement them, with some commitments made in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement and the New Urban Agenda.
In Quito, pioneer governments will present at a Habitat III side event, discussing city innovations in open government and how the success of the New Urban Agenda depends on its implementation at the subnational level. Additionally, the subnational action plans will be unveiled in December at the OGP Summit in Paris. Mayor Anne Hidalgo, an OGP Pioneer, will host a half-day, subnational session where subnational governments review their co-created commitments, discuss methods for implementation and declare their intentions to work collectively to pursue transformative changes in local open government.
The 15 governenments in OGP’s subnational pilot program are: Austin, US; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Jalisco, Mexico; La Libertad, Peru; Ontario, Canada; São Paulo, Brazil; Egeyo-Marakwet County, Kenya; Kigoma Municipality, Tanzania; Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana; Madrid, Spain; Paris, France; Scotland, UK; Seoul, Korea and Tbilisi, Georgia.