Open Government, Engaged Citizens: A Learn and Show Initiative to Make Open Government Partnership Work

July 13, 2015

wbdOrganized by the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM), the first “Western Balkans OGP Dialogue” in September is expected to draw hundreds of international participants for a two-day event focusing on effective initiatives to further open government in the region.

The September 10-11 event in Tirana, Albania, is being held  as part of Advocacy for Open Government, an EU-funded PASOS project to encourage governments in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia to become more transparent. OGP is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. 

Open Government, Engaged Citizens: A Learn and Show Initiative to Make Open Government Partnership Work will feature panel discussions, workshops, webinars, and networking events. IDM, which is hosting the conference in cooperation with the Albanian government’s Office of the OGP National Coordinator/Minister of Innovation and Public Administration, intends the event to become a regular forum.

“Participants will return home inspired and equipped to pursue an even more ambitious OGP agenda,” according to the event’s website. “Furthermore, the activity will aim to foster inclusive, accountable and transparent governance and policy-making through enhanced civil society expertise and strengthened dialogue between civil society and governments within the framework of the OGP.

“Participants will share experiences from their respective countries of how openness can improve public services, drive economic growth, reduce poverty and corruption, and restore public faith in government. Finally, the activity will place Regional Cooperation centre-stage as a key priority. The regional approach will serve to highlight good practices and successful initiatives, address the challenges faced, and establish regional support and peer-exchange mechanisms.”

Organzers expect 150-200 international participants and about 100 participants from Albania will attend the conference. The participants will include:

  •  High-level representatives from Western Balkans governments;
  •  CSO representatives working on OGP from all WB countries, and CSOs from other European countries (e.g. Georgia, Estonia (open budget), Moldova etc); OGP CSO coalitions already established in WB countries; Members of parliaments from Western Balkans countries;
  •  OGP coordination teams from WB governments already working on OGP implementation at national level;
  •  Local government representatives/authorities from WB countries;
  •  International participants – US government, UK government, EU representatives, OGP steering committee, OGP Support Unit, leading open government experts;
  •  Representatives from the private sector and businesses from the WB countries;
  • Media

The Western Balkans OGP Dialogue agenda will be designed to encourage participants to learn from others about effective efforts to strengthen open government and on the obstacles to open government, and how to overcome them. It will facilitate reflection on the results achieved to date, set ambitious new commitments for greater openness, and demonstrate what transparency really means for people on the ground. The activity will include a range of dynamic, interactive sessions organised in a wide variety of formats, including:

– Plenary Sessions (Opening and Closing of the Summit)

– Parallel Sessions (on a number of topics)/ in the form of roundtables / workshops / sharing of best practices / peer-to-peer learning

– Open Government Window-Show – presenting innovative ideas / best practices

– Working breakfast sessions

– Webinars/ live-stream sessions.

The event will include sessions on priority topics:

  • High-level political commitment to OGP and EU accession – The Western Balkans countries share at the levels of both government and citizens an overall commitment to EU accession, but face a long road in transformation towards EU membership:
  • Panels/case studies on the five grand challenges of OGP –1) Improved public services; 2) Enhanced public integrity; 3) Effective public resource management; 4) Safe communities; 5) Increased corporate accountability.
  • Workshops on citizens’ consultations – Sessions will aim to provide a holistic overview of citizen engagement through interactive videos, resources, and activities.
  • Open Parliaments – Sessions will aim to foster a culture of parliamentary openness, focusing on parliamentary measures to ensure inclusive citizen participation and a free civil society, and to enable effective parliamentary oversight of government actions.
  • Civil society sessions on influencing policymaking and holding governments to account / WB countries OGP CSO coalitions will lead the sessions. The focus will be given to reports and analysis prepared by the Independent Reporting Mechanism in different countries.
  • Local government – Transparency is the foundation of local accountability; it gives people the tools and information they need to enable them to play a bigger role in society. However, to date, the WB countries have failed to undertake OGP commitments at the local level. The activity sessions will encourage governments and CSOs to work together and extend the OGP at local government level as well.
  • Peer learning – representatives from countries – government, civil society and IRM researchers – will have an honest dialogue with each other and with actors from other countries on what works and what doesn’t
  • OGP Basics – Introducing OGP to newcomers, with an emphasis on core aspects like civil society engagement and the Independent Reporting Mechanism

For more information and to register for the conference, visit the website created for the event here.

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