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Conference agenda

From Open Government Pioneer Project

Title: Reimagining democracy

Date:   Thursday 15th March 2018

Venue: The Mac, Belfast

Organiser contact: Jonathan Bell, Northern Ireland Environment Link

Time Agenda Speakers Format Virtual conference
09:45 Welcome & Scene Setting

A journey beyond post-truth - let's acknowledge our anger with the way our democracy works, frame the kind of democracy we want, then identify the commitments and actions that will get us there.

Livestream with twitter wall
10:00 Re-imagining democracy in a post-truth world

Dialogue 1:      Transparency, accountability and the public's right to know

Do you want to live in a place in which everyone has access to the information needed to make meaningful democratic choices, and in which political debate is honest, accessible and inclusive? Do you want to live in a place where decisions are honestly made, transparent and accountable, where outcomes cannot be bought or otherwise engineered and where policy-making processes enhance democratic participation and connection?

Dialogue 2:     Who owns our democracy?

Is democracy being subverted by dark money - the undisclosed funding of organisations involved in public advocacy? Hundreds of groups purporting to be either independent think tanks or grassroots campaigns are financed by billionaires and corporations. Few people would see a tobacco company as a credible source on public health, a coal company as a neutral commentator on climate change, or a billionaire as a disinterested observer of taxes on the very rich. To advance their political interests, such companies and people must pay others to speak on their behalf. 

Dialogue 3:     Unmasking the Corrupt

Will improving transparency around who owns, controls and benefits from companies assist with preventing the misuse of companies for illicit activities like tax evasion, money laundering, bribery, corruption and terrorism financing? Or is the UK register a bit like an honesty box arrangement for those committing tax crime? Is the government in fact the defender of secrecy jurisdictions and the de facto promoter of the harm they cause to tax revenues, to developing countries, to fair competition, to markets and to democracy?

3 Deliberative dialogues to explore and demonstrate the intrinsic and instrumental value of more open government. Livestream with twitter wall
11:15 BREAK
11:45 Can the Sustainable Development Goals frame our vision for a better democracy? 3 from 4 of the following talks

Lightning Talk 1: Climate Change and Environmental Protection Post Brexit – SDG 13,14,15

Northern Ireland has no independent environmental protection agency and an ineffective environmental watchdog. Without the EU and the European Commission, how can we safe-guard the environment post-Brexit?

Lightning Talk 2: A bolder vision for tackling the health and care crisis - SDG 3

There's lots of talk about the crisis of health and care, but not much, it seems that government is doing about it. In Scotland politicians have tried to tackle the health and care crisis by merging some of their spend on NHS and social care. But is this enough? With similar plans underway across the UK - what can we learn from Scotland's experience?

Lightning Talk 3: Well-being and the year of young people - SDG 1,4,5,8 - Jetske to edit

What plans are in place in Wales to frame their democracy around wellbeing of young people? What can we learn from this in the rest of the UK?

Possible Lightning Talk 4: Corruption and Inequality - SDG 10

How corruption and lack of transparency fuels conflict and inequality in the developing world

Format: 3 x 10 min TED Talks; followed by a panel, a Q&A and an open discussion on the relevance of the SDGs for the UK and Ireland. Livestream with twitter wall
13:00 LUNCH
14:00 The Future of Open Government – We are not alone

Keynote presentation from the International Open Government Partnership Steering group

Format: Keynote from OGP Representative or Deliberative Democracy enthusiast Livestream with twitter wall
14:30 Using Open Government Action plans and the Sustainable Development Goals to progress a more responsive democracy

Introduction to the 4th UK Open Government National Action Plan, Scotland's Pioneer Action plan, and the Wales and Northern Ireland contributions to the UK plan.

Workshop group discussions on what should be in these action plans, also looking at proposed commitments from before conference.

Followed by: A series of 3 min pitches against the countdown clock proposing new commitments to open government – some pre-planned, some emerging from the group discussions. Followed by an audience vote to prioritise these.

Format: Unconference/ Pitching Ideas for new commitments / Analysing proposed commitments from before conference / voting Livestream with twitter wall

Followed by breakout chatrooms

16:30 SUMMING UP - Conference Chair

VOTE OF THANKS - Lucy McTernan, Chair of Opengovpioneers project board


Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals divide opinion. Whilst some view the SDGs as providing a good enough foundation to make inroads in tackling the world’s biggest problems, others are more critical and seek to adjust and question the agenda.

The role of our project is to highlight the need to move from deliberation of the value of such an agenda to meaningful action, through removing the barriers (via open government) that we know are preventing real change from happening.

We know what the problems are at a national level, and so this session will be as much about training participants to be able to use the SDGs in open government conversations at a community focused level as well as collecting information to feed into the afternoon session.

The session will consist of mini-group discussions, which will be simple to replicate with other groups not attending the conference in person.

  • What’s on your mind! Each table picks two SDG and writes everything that comes to mind about that SDG. Repeat x2
  • Your priority Each participant picks an SDG that is most important to them, and speaks to table for no longer than a minute
  • Challenges Considering the potential issues for SDG implementation in their communities  
  • Open Government and the SDGs On tables, participants come up with as many ways that a more open government – participation, accountability, transparency – could overcome these challenges.
Open Government Action Plans

Keynote: Context for UK and Subnational Open Government Action Plans (10 mins) Q & A session.

Breakout deliberative workshops for each UK home nation

Sustainable Development Goals

Keynote: SDG Lead at DFID (15mins) Lightning Talks (3 x 7 mins) from Regional SDG Leads or alternative 'expert' (to include talk on Welsh Well-being of Future Generations Act) - each region to identify their government lead on SDGs or suitable alternative 'expert'

Strategy Discussion re the process for generating the Implementation Plan

Breakout discussion sessions for each UK home nation

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