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How EDI can support the Open Government Partnership

How EDI can support the Open Government Partnership

By jesse.worker - October 29th, 2015

(Photo by Open Government Partnership)

by: Jesse Worker

More than 1,500 representatives from civil society, government, and the private sector are gathering in Mexico City from October 27-29 for the Open Government Partnership (OGP) summit. The OGP is an international multistakeholder platform focused on expanding transparent, responsive, and accountable governance to improve public services, reduce poverty, and combat corruption. Founded in 2011 with 8 participating national governments, its membership has grown to 66 countries from around the world. Countries must meet minimum eligibility criteria to join, and are expected to produce national action plans in collaboration with civil society. These national action plans must contain specific commitments, the progress towards which is assessed through self-assessment reports and an independent reporting mechanism (IRM). Countries have made over 2,000 commitments during this time with several notable accomplishments, such as new freedom of information laws and reforms to make political finance and public expenditures more transparent. OGP also includes five thematic working groups, including one on Openness in Natural Resources, which WRI co-chairs along with the Natural Resource Governance Institute and the Government of Indonesia. The summit will pay special attention to how OGP can inform and advance the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

The OGP summit offers a great opportunity to discuss how EDI can complement the OGP with open government champions from around the world. The inaugural EDI includes 38 countries that are OGP members. WRI and TAI are hosting a session on the Environmental Democracy Index on October 29th that will include speakers from WRI, as well as TAI partners from Mexico and South Africa. After a brief demonstration of the EDI platform, the session will focus on the following objectives:

  • Discuss how EDI can link OGP and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by helping countries monitor transparency, participation, and access to justice in decision-making that impacts the environment. While Goal 16 links most directly to OGP and EDI, transparent, responsive and accountable governance are not merely goals in themselves but are also enabling conditions for more effective, efficient and equitable natural resource management.
  • Generate ideas on how EDI could be used by civil society and governments in OGP to create new commitments related to the environment and natural resources. EDI’s results reveal gaps in legislation and practice that could be the basis for future commitments.. In some cases, such as Mexico’s commitment to strengthen participatory processes in environmental impact assessments, efforts to address these gaps may already be underway. In other cases, there may be political economic or institutional barriers to reform that participants could help identify.  This is important as currently less than 10% of the 2,000+ commitments relate to the environment or natural resources.
  • Draw upon the experience of participants from across sectors and geographies to gather input on the types of indicators to measure implementation that would be most useful and effective for EDI’s next edition. EDI’s currently measures the strength legally-binding rules while also providing insights into key areas of practice. WRI and its partners envision a much expanded set of indicators on implementation and enabling conditions in the next version of EDI. EDI launches around the world have helped to gather feedback on what these indicators should assess and the type of data that could be used.

OGP has enormous potential to catalyze governance reforms through its multisectoral platform that promotes collaboration, learning, and transparency in the creation and monitoring of commitments. The Environmental Democracy Index can support OGP members by helping to pinpoint gaps in laws and practice related to transparent, inclusive, and accountable decision-making for the environment, which could be the focus of future OGP commitments.