Launched by the United Nations in November 2015, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, encompass an ambitious set of social, economic and environmental targets. Based on human rights, and unlike their predecessors the Millennium Development Goals, they apply universally, with developing and developed countries alike required to take action to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and manage their impact on energy use and climate. The Open Government Partnership is global platform created by the United Nations, designed to promote transparency, accountability and openness in all aspects of governance, including information and data, policy and decision-making. Uniquely, to participate, governments MUST partner on an equal basis with civil society. More than 70 countries have so far committed to its ambitious reform aims and it is increasingly being viewed as the means by which countries will achieve their SDG targets.
In May 2016 Scotland was announced as one of 15 ‘sub-national’ governments and civil society partnerships worldwide to be part of a pioneer programme to take the principles of open government to levels of governance closer to citizen’s everyday interests. Alongside massive cities like Paris, France and San Paolo, Brazil, rural regions of Indonesia and Kenya, and states such as Ontario, Canada and Jalisco, Mexico, Scotland will have a prominent role in championing citizen participation, co-production of policy and services, and techniques such as participatory budgeting, which are designed to make government and public resources more responsive to people’s needs and interests. This global pioneer status gives us a phenomenal and ground-breaking opportunity to lead the world in social change. SCVO is the lead civil society ‘point of contact’ for the pioneer programme and is being encouraged and supported by our sister organisations and open government civil society networks elsewhere in the UK and Ireland, to lead from the front in the ‘race to the top’ of global practice.