Latin America and the Caribbean Depend on Open Government for Sustainable Development

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The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations on September 2015 represents a historic milestone. The new agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were formulated through an unprecedented, open and participatory process led by governments and engaging civil society and the private sector. These goals lay down a universal and transformative vision that integrates economic, social, and environmental dimensions of development, rooted in the premise of “leaving no one behind.”

For Latin America and the Caribbean — a historically middle-income region but deeply scarred by internal structural gaps and external vulnerabilities — this new agenda poses a unique opportunity to redefine its path to development. It is composed of very ambitious, yet attainable challenges, such as eradication of extreme poverty over the next 15 years (Goal 1) and reduction of inequality (Goal 10) in terms of income, access, gender and opportunities. This region is still considered the “most unequal in the world.”

Making this vision a reality calls for a real paradigm shift in the ways that the state, market and citizenship operate, as well as the creation of new mechanisms for collaboration amongst them. None of these stakeholders will be able to implement this ambitious agenda on its own, as it entails unprecedented resource mobilization and allocation, as well as the implementation of innovative public policies, and business and citizen practices that leverage the opportunities created by the technological and digital revolution and knowledge, rooted in civic innovation. Furthermore, by emphasizing the need for openness, transparency and access to information, the Agenda highlights the need to strengthen monitoring and accountability frameworks at the global, regional and national levels.

This entails, firstly, the need to strengthen institutions and public administration practices (Goal 16). This region has already achieved remarkable progress in terms of public policy, State modernization strategies, strengthening of transparency frameworks, and government openness. Some cases, such as Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay, as well as large cities in Argentina and Brazil, for instance, have taken a global lead in establishing strategic plans and functioning budgets for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and monitoring of SDGs, open government strategies, and statistic modernization initiatives to address the “data revolution,” including a better use of digital technology and data openness.

Secondly, it remains key to continue to consolidate the recent regional progress made in terms of citizen participation and innovation by strengthening the role of youth and other traditionally vulnerable sectors. The citizenship of Latin America and the Caribbean is now empowered and its demands for transparency and accountability can no longer be postponed. Therefore, governments and multilateral institutions must continue to deepen its systematic participation in implementing the 2030 Agenda and create mechanisms for ongoing information sharing and feedback.

Finally, the private sector must become an even more lasting partner of governments and the citizenship in the implementation of the Agenda, promoting the dissemination of innovative practices and new technologies through the creation and scaling up of new business models that are more inclusive — for instance, through innovative public-private partnerships.

This constitutes a true ecosystem of stakeholders that will enable the success of the SDGs. This is where the open government paradigm represents an axis to leverage the process and serves as a platform to catalyze and attain the expected outcomes.

Latin America and the Caribbean are amongst the regions of the world with higher levels of social innovation in public administration and private entrepreneurship. Global and regional initiatives such as Open Government Partnership (OGP), the Global Partnership on Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD), the Regional Conference for Open Data (CONDATOS) and the Statistical Conference of the Americas of ECLAC are key initiatives to support this process. Therefore, this is not an era of change, but a change of era — where the open government paradigm can be the institutional key to take on and successfully address these challenges.

This post is part of a series produced by the Huffington Post and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) surrounding OGP’s 2015 Global Summit, which is took place in Mexico City from October 27-29.

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