OECD International Forum on Open Government
Welcoming remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
30 September 2014
OECD Headquarters, Paris
(As prepared for delivery)
Ministers, Ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the first OECD International Forum on Open Government. I am particularly glad to speak to you today because only last week I was in New York, representing the OECD in the high-level event that the Open Government Partnership (OGP) organises every year back to back with the UN General Assembly. Minister Kuntoro, who will deliver the keynote speech after me, will surely talk more about it as Indonesia is the lead chair of the OGP until October 1, when Mexico will officially take over. But allow me to say a couple of things.
As you know, the OECD and the OGP have been collaborating for the past three years to promote open government principles and practices around the world. The path toward transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability is not an easy one, as it entails a paradigm shift that puts citizens at the heart not only of public policies but also of the very functioning of public administrations.
This move towards a new paradigm is necessary for governments to regain citizens‘ trust that has been eroded by the economic crisis. Citizens’ participation in worldwide policy discussions through the new social media and internet fora also put pressure on governments to accommodate the voice of citizens in government decision making.
As countries are struggling with high levels of unemployment, weak economic growth and the need to find new sources of growth, open government can be an important lever to develop innovative solutions that address these challenges.
Nowadays, thanks to initiatives like the OGP, all OECD countries are putting open government principles at the heart of their public sector reforms. So the challenge is not any more whether – for example - it is worth to open up public sector information and data for business to create economic value, or if citizens are capable to contribute constructive inputs into the policymaking cycle. The main question is how best to make this happen and to evaluate the impact of these initiatives on the people’s quality of life.
Today, I am proud to be launching the OECD Open Government Reviews of Morocco, Tunisia and Myanmar. The OECD actively supports the efforts of these countries to better work with their civil society organisations and business sector. This shows commitment to transform their public administrations in line with citizens’ demands for more transparency and accountability. These are the first Open Government Reviews that the OECD has produced. We are confident they will start a long series in which open government champions from all around the world will engage with the OECD Secretariat in a constructive policy dialogue to share and identify good practices and transfer relevant knowledge.
The importance of international policy dialogue and its positive impact on the ongoing reform processes are well known in my continent. All countries that are members of the OGP participated in the first OECD Regional Report on Open Government in Latin America, which we are also launching today. In it, the OECD has identified opportunities to better exploit the potential benefits of the existing open government plans, while highlighting the many success stories that come from the region.
These are some examples of our most recent work. From the feedback we have received, it is clear that the systematic collection of data and information on Open Government implementation practices is crucial. This allows countries to benefit from the success stories of others and avoid their mistakes. We will continue to do it, in the open spirit of sharing and mutual learning that has always characterised OECD work.
Let me conclude by stressing that the OECD has been promoting public sector reforms inspired by the principles of open government for more than two decades. We believe in their capacity to improve good governance frameworks, to help government regain citizens’ trust and to create economic opportunities. As President Peña Nieto stated at the Annual Meeting of the OGP last week: “open governments are the new frontier of democracy.”
Today, we want to hear about your country’s experience and what you believe the international open government agenda should look like, what priorities should be in it and how the OECD can help you achieve them.
Thank you again for being here and I look forward to the discussions that will animate today’s sessions!