At a tender three years of age, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) is growing toward maturity. It has reached a stage where it can reflect on progress made to date and learn from early attempts to inspire action by government and civil society. While enthusiasm remains fresh – palpable in the youth contingent at the Asia Regional Conference in Bali – champions within OGP are thinking seriously about how to ensure the credibility of national commitments and deliver the fruits of open government to the people.
Yet as an observer in Bali, I was mostly struck by the moments of discovery, the “aha” moments that occurred as new and veteran participants encountered one another. OGP is entirely new to many countries in Asia (Papua New Guinea and Burma, for instance) and equally new to certain segments of society, especially the private sector.
At the session hosted by Indonesia Global Compact Network on “Building Trust between Private and Public Sectors for a Competitive and Sustainable Economy,” prominent business people were amazed to know that there is such a partnership for transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement. They immediately grasped the potential of OGP to address issues of concern to them, including innovation policy, education, health, and local development. The light bulb really came on when they expressed that corporate social responsibility is not sufficient, that companies must become active citizens and engage with civil society and government alike to build trust.
My own discovery was that Mexico, the Philippines, and Korea all have well-advanced initiatives to engage the private sector within their OGP efforts. They are capitalizing on business expertise, fostering information-driven enterprises, and finding mutual ground on environmental and social challenges. These countries can be a source of encouragement and learning for other countries.
So how do we bring the private sector on board as a contributor, partner, and stakeholder in the open governance movement? Andrew Wilson, CIPE Deputy Director and co-chair of the Council for Engaging the Private Sector in OGP, presented draft recommendations in Bali, together with Co-Chair Jong-Sung Hwang (National Information Society Agency, Korea), and Erick Stephens (Microsoft).
In a nutshell, the proposed framework includes sharing grassroots country experiences, involving private sector actors in national action plans, and coordinating globally to ensure alignment with other actors and OGP leadership.
We were delighted to receive enthusiastic and thoughtful responses to these ideas in Bali and to meet terrific proponents of reform in Asia. Chairman Ahmad Yuniarto of Schlumberger Indonesia summed it up best when he said that we need to promote the spirit of citizenship, build trust, and support OGP.
Kim Bettcher is Senior Knowledge Manager at CIPE.