The past couple of weeks I have been reading many of the 300+ submitted proposals for this year’s OGP Global Summit. At times it has felt a bit like being at the Saturday morning market full of all kinds of delights: each “stall” overflowing with fresh and tempting products ready for the taking. The smells and sounds are overwhelming as salesmen pitch their produce, but unfortunately there is only so much space in the basket.
Our challenge has been to pick and choose, to see which ingredients go together to make the best dish possible. Our goal is to combine and blend these proposals into a program that will satisfy a variety of tastes and leave all guests at the summit feeling that they have been presented with not only the most relevant issues currently defining the open government movement, but also with new ideas, positive energy and intriguing challenges for years to come.
To give you a sense of the challenges our selection committee faced in narrowing down the list of proposals when we met in Mexico City last week, let me share some statistics:
- We received 350 proposals for approximately 100 agenda slots. (Compare this to the 175 proposals received for the 2013 OGP Global Summit in London).
- Topics ranged from youth, gender and civic space to sports, money & politics, infomediaries and geospatial planning of forests – with a good helping of transparency and accountability thrown into the mix. The most popular topics this year were public sector innovation (30%), open data (21%) and learning from OGP experiences (13%).
- Good ideas did literally come from everywhere but some groups really stand out for their clear desire to engage with us at the Summit: these include Oxfam, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) as well as the OGP Working Groups and our multilateral partners.
- Of particular interest to us in the Support Unit are the wide range of proposals looking at the learning from OGP’s successes and setbacks.
- And the good ideas extend beyond content to style: we have proposals for panels and workshops, Ted Talks and fishbowls, speed and geek dating, hackathons, debates and more.
- Proposals were submitted from participants from all over the world, with about one third coming from the Americas.
We had some very difficult decisions to make last week. In some instances we hope to combine proposals or think of other ways in which to address great issues raised. Unfortunately, we’ll also have to turn down some brilliant ideas. In this instance our solace will be the knowledge that despite the many challenges we face in creating an open government movement for all – there is clearly a real desire from parties around the world to keep the momentum going.
Expect a first full draft agenda on the Summit website by mid-September.