Points of View 7th November 2023

New Scotland Civil Society Chair – Juliet Swann

by Admin

Anyone who knows me will tell you I love teamwork.

As I take on the role of Chair of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Scotland Steering Group, I do so seeing OGP as the ultimate in policy teamwork. And I am delighted that all five of our thematic working groups (Financial Transparency, Data and Digital, Health and Social Care, Climate Change and Public Participation) are making good progress towards their milestones. This despite all the challenges of the past few years.

Open Government is a powerful partnership between civil society and government. Representatives from across civic Scotland work together with government departments to design and implement commitments to enhance the transparency of and public participation in government decision making.

Working collaboratively means civil society representatives can give regular input and feedback to government staff, allowing iterative progress and ongoing reflection. Where we can, civil society provide our expertise and opinions, and reach out through our networks to get wider feedback. And with the good progress we are making, we are keen to use the next year or so before the next Holyrood election (and a new national action plan) to enlarge the OGP network, to encourage more organisations to participate, and to share our success stories.

For instance, a strong OGP commitment on Public Participation has assisted in Scotland holding two citizens’ assemblies, one of which, Scotland’s Climate Assembly featured several innovations to improve access and participation.

But the story doesn’t end with Scottish success stories. OGP is an international endeavor. Ukraine is working hard to implement anti-corruption measures using open government processes. In Nigeria, open government is providing a means to empower local decision making, putting localisation into action. And in Canada, open government commitments to exposing beneficial owners of land and property are being implemented as a tool to combat ‘snow-washing’, a key factor in Vancouver’s spiralling housing crisis.

As I take on the role of chair I am keen to see even more representation from across Scotland’s vibrant civil society and third sector. Open government is a key concept if you would benefit from increased transparency around decision making in health, openness about climate change policy development, greater insights into financial decisions, a greater awareness about how data can be used, or enhanced participation in decision making.

If you would like to find out more, do get in touch.