AGORA, the Global Portal for Parliamentary Development
Parliaments are uniquely positioned to design, implement and follow up on development projects, including – but not limited to – the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. Through enacting legislation that enables lasting positive change, parliaments could and should be at the forefront of international development cooperation.
Since its launch at the National Assembly in Paris on March 2, 2010, AGORA (www.agora-parl.org) has become the leading portal for the parliamentary development community, connecting international organizations, parliamentary development experts and professionals, but also Members of Parliament (MPs), parliamentary staff, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations active in the field of parliamentary development.
AGORA is a global, multilateral project jointly implemented by UNDP, International IDEA, the World Bank Institute and the National Democratic Institute. AGORA also works closely with the European Union: the European Parliament’s Office for the Promotion of Parliamentary Development is an official Partner to the AGORA project, and the European Commission has made several contributions to AGORA since its launch in 2010. Beyond this, AGORA maintains an active partnership with the European Parliament through contributions to study tours, internships, provision of technical expertise and organization of joint parliamentary development round tables.
Creating a Global Community of Practice
Embracing the latest communication and knowledge management tools, AGORA is creating a true ‘community of practice’ in the field of parliamentary development. The Portal’s new ‘Interact’ forum presents a unique opportunity for all those working in this field to connect, share experiences and exchange information. In addition, the new E-learning Portal offers an innovative ‘Induction for First-Time Parliamentarians’ course. This course, available free of charge, is designed for legislators who are new to parliament and for parliamentary staff, practitioners, donors, civil society organisations and others who want to learn about how parliament works.
AGORA’s contribution to the field of parliamentary development has been praised by both its partners and its users. The Portal is available in English, French and Arabic, and offers a virtual library with more than 1300 resources, 75 knowledge modules on the key aspects of parliamentary development work, and a news section reporting on latest updates and developments. AGORA makes use of state of the art technologies and innovative capacity-building methods, setting high standards as an adaptive, flexible knowledge network that successfully meets the changing needs of its audience.
Following the growth of AGORA’s member network, requests for technical assistance and capacity-building have multiplied. In response, AGORA has delivered several tailored workshops on legislative drafting and law-making, setting the tone for a strengthened focus on capacity-building. With its new website and E-Learning Portal in place, AGORA is looking to build on these results in the future.
AGORA in the Arab World
In light of recent development in the Arab States, and given the crucial role of representative institutions in this region, AGORA has recently launched its new Arabic Portal. Understanding the urgent need for support, AGORA is actively providing technical backstopping, training materials and capacity-building opportunities for its partners and users in the Arab States. Visitors from the Arab States region currently constitute more than 20% of the Portal’s users, indicating that AGORA is meeting a growing and realistic demand.