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Learning how to go local: Lessons from six learning journeys for the Open Government Partnership

Date added: December 11, 2017

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The Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multi-stakeholder governance initiative comprising 74 countries across the world, is one of several recent attempts to harness and actualise emerging insights about the nature of successful governance reform. OGP is focused on helping its member countries deliver transformative changes that matter to citizens, through collaboration and the co-creation of policy commitments by governments and civil society organisations (CSOs).

This brief reviews the evidence from Learning to Make All Voices Count (L-MAVC), a programme funded by Making All Voices Count, and implemented in collaboration with Global Integrity. L-MAVC intended to support six Making All Voices Count grantees, working in five countries, in co-creating and applying a participatory, learning-centred, and adaptive approach to strengthening citizen engagement in governance processes in their contexts, including with respect to the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

The evidence from L-MAVC suggests that supporting citizen engagement with, and use of, OGP, and improving the extent to which OGP commitments are shaped by and matter to citizens in subnational districts, is not straightforward. The approaches L-MAVC grantees took to localising OGP in their contexts evolved over the course of the programme, as grantees engaged with and navigated local political and power dynamics, and responded to emerging challenges and lessons. Rather than starting and sticking with a static, linear plan for supporting subnational engagement with OGP, successful grantees iteratively adjusted, tailored, and re-tailored their localisation strategies to fit the complex, dynamic, and political contexts in which they were working. The presence (or absence) of an institutionalised, multi-stakeholder OGP process in particular countries was an especially influential factor with respect to grantees’ development and operationalisation of localisation strategies in their contexts.

These findings suggest that efforts to broaden and deepen citizen engagement with OGP, including at subnational levels, may be more effective when combined with support that helps local OGP champions iteratively learn and adapt, and discover and apply localisation models that fit best in their contexts. OGP and its partners may strengthen the impact of the initiative, and indeed, the impact of those working to leverage OGP at and below country level, by making structured learning support more available to local reformers. Targeted advocacy, focused on institutionalising collaborative OGP processes, and on linking subnational action with National Action Plans (NAPs), may also be useful.

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