by UCLG ASPAC Team –
Way Forward for Local Governments
Asia Pacific Leaders Forum 2017 was held in Jakarta on December 14, 2017. A meeting to inspire each other on the pursuance of transparent, accountable, and responsive government successfully brought a considerable number of distinguished delegates and key representatives within the region. Authorities (local and national level), international organizations, CSOs, private sectors, and media (national and international) gathered together and intensely contributed in the discussion to advance open government practices in the Asia Pacific.
Co‐hosting the Asia Pacific forum, UCLG ASPAC, a local government association in the region, saw a huge involvement of local governments in the sessions. Intense discussions, debates, and knowledge sharing during the event reflected local governments’ enthusiasm in reaching closer to the future aspiration. As the event ended, UCLG ASPAC took notes on points of commitment to be used as way forward for local governments to accelerate the implementation of open government:
- Open government requires active participation of not only officials; but also non-government actors such as local communities, CSOs, private sectors, and other related stakeholders to achieve transparent, accountable and responsive government. To be successful, the shift from the existing good government (which typically applies one-‐side initiative) to open government (that involves non-government actors in the development process) requires commitment of leaders and multi-‐level officials to continuously embrace the inclusion principles apart from challenges that emerge resulting from the implementation of the new approach. Challenges that arise may vary, from locals and apparatus that are not (yet) ready to legislative platform that is not (yet) supporting.
- As the open government relies heavily on data, the commitment is also required to continuously embrace and explore the use of ICT. The goal is to ensure that valid data is acquired and thus provides insights. To assist local government apparatus on working efficiently and effectively, the commitment needs to be brought further to create integrated data system.
- Practical step to be taken is to actively involve in peer-‐learning and knowledge exchange activities to identify potencies of smart practices to be replicated in local areas. This approach is particularly useful and practical especially for areas that face similar challenges and in similar environments.
From Commitment to Action
Once a commitment is set by local leaders, the way to the realization of open, accountable, and inclusive development is wide open. While it is a good start to go, local governments still need to make good use of opportunities that lie ahead:
- Capacity Enhancement
Local government needs to continuously invest on capacity building of its apparatus. Skilled personnel are definitely more productive in bringing ideas to the table and thus accelerate the implementation of open government’s visions. Joining local government association that focuses on local government capacity building, particularly relating to local development in particular topic could be a solution.
- Open Doors for Collaboration
Given its unique and complex nature, Asia-‐Pacific requires collaboration in managing its development. Local people, private sectors, and CSOs should be seen as an asset that possesses potencies and if well treated will positively contribute to the local development.
- Expand the Network
Inclusive development could be achieved through partnership and collaboration from across development actors in across regions/countries. Networks enable local governments to explore any forms of bilateral or international cooperation to solve the similar issues faced by other regions/cities and hence to improve public service deliveries at a local level. Through networks, the process of knowledge and experience transfer among local governments at national or global level could be facilitated.
Perfect Fit for Asia-‐Pacific
Asia-‐Pacific region covers immense physical expanse. Besides, it also presents a great historical, cultural, and ethnic diversity as well as various stages of political evolution and economic development. It all determines what the region is now and also its inhabitants (their relationship towards each other which later on determines their needs and supplies). As human nature, the complexities will continuously increase; especially in the year 2030, where 60% of the world population is predicted to inhabit urban areas. Local government’s role is getting more essential than ever. It will need to meet the expectation of better public services delivery of the vast range of people.
To accommodate the needs of local governments towards the open government concept, we, at UCLG ASPAC, align our regional agenda with UCLG, our global connection, by taking part in the Hangzhou Statement (renewing commitment to foster transparency, accountability and open government, and fight corruption); and translate it further to our regional needs (conducting SDGs trainings, creating concept for city diplomacy, and project implementations).
UCLG ASPAC calls for collaborations of local governments in Asia Pacific to implement the open government concept. Commitment and actions taken today will determine what it will be in the next years.