Helen Clark: Speech at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit 2015 Event “Openness for All: The Role for OGP in the 2030 Development Agenda”

Oct 28, 2015

I am pleased to be able to attend this third Global Summit of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). UNDP is proud to be an official partner of OGP – indeed OGP’s overall agenda is very close to that of UNDP’s governance portfolio. We both emphasize citizen participation, responsive public services, transparency, and accountability.

Last month at the Sustainable Development Summit in New York, world leaders unanimously adopted “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and its seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Agenda 2030 is a bold, ambitious, and transformational agenda. It is also a universal agenda applying to all countries regardless of development status.

The SDGs break new ground with Goal 16 committing Member States to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels”. Agenda 2030 explicitly recognizes the strong link between achieving sustainable development and peace.

Agreement on Goal 16 by world leaders resonates with the call by millions of citizens around the world who, when they were asked what they wanted included in the new goals, answered “honest and responsive government”. Goal 16 is also a natural fit with the objectives of the OGP. Its targets include:

• promoting the rule of law at the national and international levels, and ensuring equal access to justice,

• substantially reducing corruption and bribery in all their forms,

• developing effective, accountable, and transparent institutions,

• ensuring responsive, inclusive, participatory, and representative decision making, and

• ensuring public access to information and the protection of fundamental freedoms.

UN Member States were fully engaged in reaching agreement on the SDGs. That has resulted in widespread government ownership of the Goals, and keen interest in their implementation.

On every continent, we see many governments and parliaments moving to plan incorporation of the SDGs into national visions, set up cross-party parliamentary groupings, and forge new partnerships within their societies around the SDGs.

The role of civil society is crucial for the success of the SDGs. We need open, vibrant, and safe civic spaces within which civil society actors, including always women and youth, can contribute effectively to building more peaceful, just, and inclusive societies.

When the SDGs were adopted, the Open Government Partnership released a Joint Declaration welcoming them, and, in particular, welcoming Goal 16. There is no doubt that OGP can play a very important role in supporting countries to implement Goal 16 and its targets.

The OGP’s framework and model of co-operation have already equipped its members with some of the key elements of what it will take to deliver on the 2030 Agenda; for example, with:

1) the capacity to adapt global agendas to national contexts, ensuring integration with national priorities, 

2) the ability to mobilize broad support across sectors, including engaging civil society as equal partners with governments in setting priorities and developing home-grown solutions;

3) the commitment to monitor and measure progress, clearly showing what works and how far it has taken countries forward on agreed targets; and,

4) the boldness to be innovative, to explore and make the most of technology advances and the data revolution to advance goals.

Also important, OGP members have made a head start in what is understood as key to progress across the SDGS – securing stakeholders’ commitment to build the kind of societies which make sustainable development possible - peaceful and inclusive societies and which have transparent, accountable, and responsive institutions and governance.

OGP and UNDP synergies

UNDP has been at the forefront of helping countries build inclusive, responsive, and accountable institutions as a sustainable development imperative, including as a partner of OGP.

Since 2011, more than 2,000 commitments have been made by OGP member countries which have resulted in concrete and verifiable transformations over time. Some examples of UNDP support include:

• El Salvador, where UNDP facilitated civil society engagement to develop the OGP Action Plan. UNDP also supported a platform of “Civil Society Organizations for the Open Government Partnership” to follow up on action plan commitments and advance citizen engagement. 

• Chile, where UNDP supported the elaboration of the first Action Plan for Legislative Openness within OGP, assisting efforts to modify Congress’ internal regulations and practices on ethics, transparency and anti-corruption. 

• In Armenia, based on our existing Innovation Lab, UNDP has supported a team of change-makers within the Prime Minister's office to design an upcoming innovation lab within the Government itself.  The lab, to be called 'The Open Governance Centre', will create a new interface to communicate much more directly with the citizenry.  The Centre will conduct 'idea' competitions within the Government itself, and will use crowdsourcing, TEDx conferences and social media to actively engage citizenry in the reform process. 

Going forward, I believe it will be useful for OGP to align its work on national action plans with countries’ plans for the SDGs. The UN development system will be looking to align its own programming with SDG objectives. 

Together OGP and UNDP can be very helpful partners on Goal 16. Take for example, 

• Philippines, where since 2012 UNDP has supported efforts to develop a corruption-intolerant society. This is aligned with Philippines’ efforts in OGP to enhance fiscal transparency in extractive industries, which required companies to disclose revenues. Let’s align these efforts with the SDG target on substantially reducing corruption. 

There will be countless such opportunities to align our work in support of national efforts on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. UNDP will be supporting countries in the implementation of the SDGs at the national level, in helping to localize the Goals, and in monitoring and reporting on them. 

So, as we discuss the OGP role in the 2030 Agenda here, let us also explore how we can work more closely together. Goal 16 – like all the other goals – is ambitious, and cannot be achieved by any single agency, country, or organization alone. Yet it is fundamental to securing long term sustainable development based on peace and inclusion – and to leaving no-one behind. 

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