After lots of behind the scenes activity, the starting gun for the next OGP International Summit was fired this week; the invitations to the 60 OGP member governments have been sent out.
The Summit has three key aims, to:
- drive ambitious commitments in OGP countries and beyond;
- inspire people, so they leave the Summit compelled to take action by showcasing inspiring open government stories; and
- strengthen the OGP community by promoting greater cross-sector partnership.
This week’s invitation to governments challenges them to arrive with at least one new, flagship commitment to announce publicly at the Summit.
OGP presents governments with a stage to showcase their open government reforms. In part it plays on national and regional rivalry to create a race to the top. The call for flagship commitments for the London Summit therefore presents civil society organisations in all 60 countries with an exciting political moment. Now is the time for them to put their energy into working with their governments to push for the most ambitious commitments possible.
There are risks of course. Governments which develop commitments without really meaningful engagement with civil society will be breaking one of the fundamental building blocks of the OGP, the development of genuine partnership with civil society.
The challenge for governments therefore is to make sure that they remain open as they engage develop their flagship commitments. They mustn’t let their obvious incentives to tell good news stories on such a public stage to lead them to develop the commitments in isolation. A less ambitious commitment with a stronger partnership behind it is much more likely to be sticky than an eye-catching open government initiative developed behind closed doors by a few senior officials.
The OGP is much more of a relay race than a sprint. The London Summit represents only the next stage of the competition. Like all best events, those teams that include a variety of talents (drawn in this case from across government, civil society and business) will go furthest, fastest.
Don’t forget that you have until 1st September to propose sessions for the London Summit.
Image credit: ‘And The Bolt Is Blasting Away’ by WGSFB77 via Flickr