2018 will be a big year for Georgia!

In 2016 the partner governments and civil society organizations elected Georgia to serve as the Co-Chair of Open Government Partnership (OGP) – granting a great honor and responsibility. Starting from October, 2017, Georgia serves as a lead co-chair of the OGP – an international initiative of 75 countries and 15 cities that strive to achieve deeper democracy.

In this challenging times for democracy, we decided to dedicate our chairmanship term to strengthen the basics of open government – to ensure peoples’ opportunity to influence governmental decisions that affect their daily lives.

Since its inception, OGP participating countries have translated many challenges into success stories: more open data is now available, access to information and traditionally closed archives are now more accessible, beneficial ownership falls under the transparency regime, countries join efforts to implement collective actions enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Declaration etc. Georgia has also taken important steps so far: we reformed the freedom of information system; opened up our National Archives; created the first Open Data Portal in Georgia; made statistical data on surveillance publicly available; included citizens in public service delivery, allowed citizens to issue electronic petitions to the Government etc.

Along with promoting a movement forward in various directions and acknowledging achievements thus far, as a lead co-chair, we are working to remind OGP governments that we are pursuing a simple but powerful goal: to better serve and empower our citizens. Hence, closing the feedback loop in designing and implementing OGP reforms is high in our agenda.

The way we chose to do OGP at the national level is a story of trust-building between the government and the public. Georgia is at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, meaning that we will be devoted to play a leading role in different regions of OGP.

The Government of Georgia and Mukelani Dimba – our co-chair from civil society side, have carefully chosen several key thematic areas for our term as co-chairs to ensure that OGP reforms have meaningful impact on citizens’ lives.

We have identified four strategic goals, each involving activities that touch citizens’ lives every day:

Goal 1: Strengthen co-creation and citizen engagement

Goal 2: Advance transparency and the fight against corruption

Goal 3: Generate innovation in public service delivery

Goal 4: Build a better partnership

Bearing in mind the importance of these goals for international community, we decided that the OGP 5th OGP Global Summit will be focused on civic engagement, fighting against corruption, and public service delivery.

Georgia will host the 5th OGP Global Summit in Tbilisi, Georgia, on July 17-19, 2018. The Summit will be hosted by the Prime Minister of Georgia, Mr. Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The objective of the Summit will be to reinforce and create new alliances with the ambition to better serve our citizens. The Summit will be the ideal platform for promoting peer learning, inspiring new ideas, and pushing the reformers to address new challenges. The OGP summit will involve representatives from more than 70 countries: Heads of State and governments, ministers, public servants, members of parliament, local authorities, civil society representatives, international foundations, researchers, academia and journalists will gather in the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, to promote their achievements and discuss the challenges in upholding the principles of open government.

Georgia is proud to be among a very few countries that has all three branches of the government fully involved in OGP process – the Government of Georgia, being in charge of the whole processes; the Supreme Court of Georgia, making the surveillance data open to all; the Parliament of Georgia, implementing a standalone OGP Action Plan and Tbilisi, that has joined OGP through its subnationals’ program. Additionally, 5 municipalities joined the 3rd National Action Plan of Georgia as recommended by a wide public. We are keen to use the Summit as a platform to share our experience of joining forces to ensure open governance on the ground.

We strongly believe that OGP is a powerful global movement for achieving openness and deeper democracy. Now is a remarkable time for the Partnership, and we hope to drive ambition up and go beyond our achievements.

We will meet soon in Tbilisi.