When the Open Government Partnership chose the theme of Openness for All: Enabling Sustainable Development for the 2015 Global Summit in Mexico City, it signaled more than a healthy interest in the Sustainable Development Goals recently proclaimed in New York. OGP was expressing the value of openness as a means to progress on issues that matter to citizens, in addition to achieving openness for its own sake.
As United Nations Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark noted at the summit opening, “transparent, accountable, and responsive institutions and governance” are key to achieving progress across the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The 8th Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy, in Seoul, Korea, focused on ways to renew democracy, prevent backsliding, and sustain democratic transitions. In line with this theme, CIPE organized a workshop for participants to share experiences in balancing economic and political reform priorities and engaging civil society to drive reforms.
The speakers focused on two of the four dimensions in the Steering Committee’s “Call for Democratic Renewal”: the need to prepare civil society to protect fragile new democracies and the need to restore the credibility of mature democracies. They also stressed the need for two-way international engagement.
Across the world, poor governance and an overbearing state have presented themselves in the form of land grabbing and weak property rights; the denial of opportunities to women, local communities, and small businesses; and the suppression of efforts to build civil society. Specific challenges cited include efforts to deprive women of their rights in Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Morocco; unbalanced economic reforms that neglected political reforms in the Middle East; and restrictions on independent civil society organizations including business associations in Vietnam and China.
The Private Sector Council on Open Governance is seeking examples of corporate or business-oriented programs to promote better governance in countries and communities around the world. For instance:
- Microsoft has held open data hackathons to develop applications for disaster reduction and recovery, in cooperation with the Government of the Philippines and the World Bank.
- The Makati Business Club has established a Coalition Against Corruption to support projects in procurement reform and delivery of public services, in cooperation with academe, the business sector, civil society organizations, and the Church.
- The Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked the transport systems in terms of safety for women in 16 major cities. In each city, it surveyed women and experts focused on women’s rights, gender equality, urban planning and gender-friendly urban spaces.
To submit your examples to the Private Sector Council, please complete the questionnaire by September 30. Your examples will help to map and communicate private sector roles in governance partnerships and better align governance programming with existing private sector strengths. Our aim is not to raise funding for partnerships but to identify and share effective practices. We will share the results of the survey at the 2015 OGP Global Summit in Mexico City, Mexico.
The author, Kim Bettcher, with Jehan Ara, President of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA) in Milan.
What I love best about the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, most recently the GEC 2015 in Milan, is the diversity of approaches, organizations, and countries that I encounter under the big tent. At this carnival of entrepreneurship, one meets founders and policymakers, leaders from innovation economies and emerging markets, people who have already made it and others who are shaping the future.
Out of this medley, I try to stitch together, what do we actually know about advancing entrepreneurship? And where might promising new directions lie? For me, the theme of this year’s congress was moving the frontiers of entrepreneurship. We are currently pushing against several big frontiers, which include geographic, demographic, and policy frontiers.
Emerging markets are the first frontier. While commonly described as factor-driven or efficiency-driven economies, emerging markets contain pockets of innovation and entrepreneurial ambition. For instance, entrepreneur stories from the Middle East captured in Christopher Schroeder’s Startup Rising have created considerable excitement, as has the Cinderella story of Medellín, Colombia, the site of GEC 2016. In Milan, I was honored to have on my panel Jehan Ara, President of the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA), who recently founded the Nest i/o incubator. Ara described a growing entrepreneurial community in Karachi and a feeling among entrepreneurs of “wanting to give back” (not unlike the community spirit described by Brad Feld in Boulder). I was ecstatic to see our friends from Nepal, the Samriddhi Foundation, take the limelight as winners of the Rookie of the Year award.
Why have China and Ghana achieved impressive growth and poverty reduction while Nigeria has seen an increase in poverty even as its economy grew to be the largest in Africa? The answer to this question lies in the relationships between the poor and elites, and specifically in patterns of social inclusion and exclusion. That is the conclusion reached by Seth Kaplan in his book Betrayed: Politics, Power, and Prosperity, based on a study of scholarly literature and personal observations in developing countries. Without a doubt, inclusion presents a fundamental challenge of development, and Kaplan has dug down to frame the core of the problem.
In Bahrain, young people – those under 25 years of age – make up nearly half of the population. To create enough jobs for Bahrain’s youth, entrepreneurs and aspiring businesspeople will need to equip themselves with the necessary skills that will allow them to thrive in a dynamic global economy. A number of entrepreneurship initiatives have grown up to respond to this need. These include programs offered by Tamkeen, the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bahrain Polytechnic, the University of Bahrain, and the Bahrain Development Bank.
Established in 2006 as part of Bahrain Economic Vision 2030, Tamkeen’s mission is to support Bahrain’s private sector to become the main driver of economic development in the country. Tamkeen’s programs have benefited more than 100,000 Bahrainis, and in 2013 alone, Tamkeen assisted more than 600 startups. Its programs include: a business incubator; the “Mashroo3i” Youth Business Plan Competition for students between ages 16 and 23; and programs for secondary and university students which are offered with INJAZ and AIESEC.
The Open Government Partnership has an ambitious agenda to advance transparency and accountability in government, which it seeks to advance through voluntary commitments, citizen engagement, and progress monitoring reports. It has garnered many adherents since it was launched by eight countries in 2011, and its members have already implemented numerous practical reforms.
At the OGP Americas Regional Meeting in Costa Rica, we had the opportunity to take stock of accomplishments and learn from practitioners about what makes the partnership work and how to sustain it. I was struck by the scale of the effort in several countries despite their resource constraints, as well as the concerns voiced by civil society for the integrity of overall reform.