When Double Counting is Good
Open Government Partnership and Rio+20
On September 20th President Obama will launch the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a new multilateral initiative to strengthen transparency, citizen participation, accountability, and new technology and innovation, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Governments will be able to join the Partnership by making commitments to opening their governments, including adoption of an access to information law. To date 36 governments have signed on to the OGP.
As governments prepare their road maps to implement open government standards, there are many overlapping commitments that can be made to increase transparency and accountability in the natural resource sector. Achieving good governance in the natural resource sector is especially critical because the state of the environment directly affects the lives and livelihoods of all citizens. Since governments will also be preparing national pledges for the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June 2012, it is logical that governments will make commitments across both international initiatives.
Below are several points supporting the case for joint commitments across OGP and Rio+20:
- Natural resources underpin a major portion of the economy in all participating countries.
- Governance of natural resources, their benefits and the revenues derived, determine how a country grows and the social benefits of that growth.
- Known elements of good governance include: access to information, public participation, and access to justice. These are congruent with principles of OGP eligibility criteria, including “Access to Information” and “Citizen Engagement.”
- Good governance is a main component of both pillars of the Rio+20 agenda. It is a central tenet of the “Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development,” and integral the future functioning of the “Green Economy.”
- At Rio+20, governments are likely to make national-level pledges including commitments to good governance of natural resources for sustainable development.
- As part of OGP, governments are likely to make national-level pledges aligned with these good governance principles to increase access to information and enhance public participation.
- Why not make commitments to both?
- We are requesting that you submit the same commitments on the international stage for both OGP and Rio+20: a. As part of your national commitment to the Open Government Partnership, we should submit a number of commitments around natural resources and the environment. b. These same commitments to transparency, public participation and access to information should be part of a national commitment at Rio+20.