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The Open Government Pioneers Project has been set up to build the capacity of citizens and civil society across the United Kingdom to contribute and input to policy-making and service delivery in progressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), in partnership with the Wales Council for Voluntary Organisations (WCVA), Involve, and Northern Ireland Environment Link, has been awarded a £500k Big Lottery Fund grant to work together over two years to support people to engage and challenge their governments to serve them better. There will be a particular focus in supporting people who are not normally heard in the decisions that affect them, and the connection between citizens and devolved governments of the UK home nations.

The project is formally linked to the international Open Government Partnership, where governments and civil society have been given an equal say in the commitments made by 70 countries to be more open. It will use open government commitments to help people secure progress towards the SDGs to eradicate poverty, tackle inequality and sustain natural resources at home and abroad.

Why the project exists

We should live in a place where people can satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a good quality of life without compromising future generations to come. Unfortunately, this is simply not a reality in the UK today. From low wages and a lack of housing to food insecurity and poor health, we are a long way from being the society we would like to be.

Launched by the United Nations in November 2015, the 2030 Agenda – made up of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – moves us a step closer to that society we want to be. Encompassing ambitious social, economic and environmental targets, these goals require all UN members to take action to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and manage their environmental impact.

In the UK, the 2030 Agenda provides an important framework to achieve social, economic and environmental change. In pursuit of the SDGs, governments in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be adapting the goals and targets to our national contexts, prioritising outcomes and the distribution of resources.

The ambition of the Open Government Pioneers Project is for the institutions that make these trade-offs to be open, responsive and accountable to citizens – particularly those who are typically excluded – to make sure our pursuit of the Global Goals responds to the needs of people and communities, in particular those most in need.

How the project will work

We will focus on our core belief, that everyone should have the opportunity to take part in the decisions that will shape their future. To put it simply, we want to see people have more of a say in the issues that matter to them. We want to see that nobody gets left behind.

In doing so, we will use the UK’s membership in the Open Government Partnership, and Scotland’s new status as a pioneer for open government, as a mechanism for promoting and securing dialogue and debate between people, communities and government in the pursuit of the Global Goals.

The Open Government Partnership is a global platform launched in 2011 to promote transparency, accountability and openness in all aspects of government. In May 2016, Scotland – alongside cities like Paris and San Paolo and states including Ontario and Jalisco – was announced as one of 15 ‘sub-national’ governments and civil society partnerships worldwide to be part of a pioneer programme of open government.

This gives Scotland a prominent role at the devolved level 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 development takes the principles of open government to levels of governance closer to citizen’s everyday interests.

What the project will do

Our approach will be multi-channelled and collaborative, working with different audiences in building a network of people and organisations to support opening up the process through which government works towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

In doing so, we hope to remove the barriers and structures that prevent a conversation between government and people from taking place. We will do so by:

  • Building confidence, awareness and solidarity between people on challenging and engaging their governments
  • Raising Interest, awareness and understanding of how a more open government approach can improve the operating environment for organisations and the people they support.
  • Supporting a cultural change within government towards more open government approaches in building a better society

By promoting the principles of accountability, participation and openness, the process by which the UK and devolved nations pursue the 2030 Agenda will become more manageable and effective with people and communities better understanding the choices that affect them and feeling more control over those that are made

How to get involved

This site is a collaborative space for the Open Government communities in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Here we will develop shared proposals and ideas for strengthening civil society's influence on opening up governments at the UK's devolved nation levels to progress towards sustainable development goals

You can immediately start working on developing this wiki, whenever you want (no wiki experience required). No need to register or sign in, unless you want your ideas to be attributed to you. We want you to directly shape these plans by adding your ideas and content to this Wiki. It will be the basis for our approach to funding partners and other supporters, and become the programme of activity for the project.

Please be bold and use this site to write in your ideas on the following:

How to get involved with others:

  • Join the Open Government UK community with its forums for each nation, and details of meet ups and events.
  • Dig directly into local meetup opportunities or start your own with our support at our page
  • See Miraheze FAQ if you want to get more technical with this Wiki.

Dig in to the Action plans for each nation:

  • Contribute to the Scotland action plan - UPDATED!
  • Contribute to the Northern Ireland actions
  • Contribute to the Wales actions
  • Contribute to the England/UK plan

Who is behind this site?

This project is being led by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Northern Ireland Environment Link, Wales Council for Voluntary Action and Involve UK.

The site has been set up by Ruchir Shah and Paul Bradley, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. Email us at

Find out more about the core partners, how they are funded to deliver this project and the governance arrangements for this initiative.