The Abuja Municipality and Plateau State are among 64 entities comprising sub-national governments and civil society organizations that joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) at the international level in October in the largest expansion of the partnership in its history.
The OGP, launched in September 2011, is a partnership of reformers in and outside of government working to transform how government serves its citizens.
This expansion, the largest in OGP history, brings into the partnership 56 new OGP local members that were selected out of a pool of 112 applications jointly submitted by governments and non-governmental stakeholders.
According to the OGP Support Unit, the 20 jurisdictions currently in OGP Local have been at the forefront of innovation, taking bold steps to address persistent challenges, with examples of government and civil society partnering to ensure that marginalized communities have access to reproductive health; and that citizens can digitally access information on applications for infrastructure projects empowering them to fight corruption and illegal construction activities.
The Support Unit explained that following the success of the first 20 OGP local members, the OGP Steering Committee agreed to expand the cohort in 2020.
OGP’s Chief Executive Officer, Sanjay Pradhan, welcomed the addition of the new members to the Partnership, saying “Local leaders – in government and civil society – are often closest to the people they serve. Open local government can deliver a transformative impact in people’s lives and build trust.”
It noted that around the world, local governments are responsible for the most relevant policies affecting citizens daily lives and that in many cases they were the first to respond to the challenges of the pandemic, providing key services to those who are affected, especially in major cities that have become COVID-19 hotspots.
The Support Unit said OGP Local members have brought citizens closer to their governments, creating a robust sense of trust and collaboration between them while local governments that are part of OGP have partnered with civil society and the private sector to develop safe contact tracing platforms that take into account marginalized communities with limited access to cell phones or the internet while upholding people’s right to privacy.
It stressed that like the current members of OGP Local, the new cohort of local governments will work with civil society organizations and citizens to tackle pressing challenges such as inequality, climate change, localizing the Sustainable Development Goals, and providing more effective and efficient public services.
Assessed by OGP and elected by a diverse Selection Committee composed of government and non-governmental stakeholders from the OGP Steering Committee, the current OGP Local members and civil society representatives, the newly elected local participants were selected based on the assessment of criteria outlined in the call for expressions of interest issued in May 2020 as well as other factors considered to ensure a regionally diverse group, with different types and size of entities, and unique strengths to complement the objectives of OGP Local.
Ms Carolina Cornejo of the Government of Argentina, who sits on the OGP Steering Committee and is also a member of the OGP Local Selection Committee, said: “We are excited to see local governments from different regions, with different traits and trajectories, join the Partnership and we hope to strengthen learning and synergies between local and national governments so open government has a real impact on the needs of citizens.”,
The OGP received more than 110 joint applications from governments and civil society organizations at the local level in 2020 expressing their interest in joining OGP Local. All the applicants have been invited to join OGP Local’s Community of Practice and contribute to develop OGP’s knowledge base of local open government and participate in OGP peer exchange activities to scale up reforms at the national and local levels for all OGP members.