Photo: Vladimer Valishvili/UNDP

Putting people first and transforming the governance systems based on the principles of openness, accountability and engagement is in the focus of the Fifth Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit unrolling in Georgia on 17-19 July 2018.

Throughout the three Summit days, representatives the OGP’s 96 participating governments and thousands of civil society organizations are exchanging ideas on how to make governments more responsive to the citizens they serve and how to empower people to take more active part in decision-making.

UNDP joins the Summit as a supporter and active participant, taking a lead in discussing legislative openness, public services and citizen engagement. UNDP’s contribution is grounded on the its multi-decade support to open, transparent and accountable governance in many countries around the globe and its international expertise in assisting constitutional reforms, credible elections, strengthened parliaments, and constructive engagement of civil society.

On 18 July, in his video address to the Summit participants, the Administrator of UNDP, Achim Steiner, stressed that trust in globalization, in government, and in elected officials is at an all-time low in many parts of the world.

“Accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals requires unprecedented international cooperation and leadership at a time of intense political polarization over complex issues such as migration, climate change, violent extremism, gender equality. The purpose of this summit – to actively explore new ways of opening governments to the citizens and delivering quality public services that restore trust between state and society – is more important than ever before in tackling today’s complex challenges,” Steiner said.

The same day, at a panel discussion on public services, Niels Scott, UNDP Resident Representative in Georgia, highlighted the role of innovation and technology in establishing a new social contract between state and citizens.

“Political, social and economic challenges faced by the world are calling for new approaches that will help us push boundaries and innovate in the public sector,” Niels Scott said.

To stir a productive exchange about the new ways in achieving openness at all levels of governance, UNDP invited Sophia the Robot, Hanson Robotics’ most advanced human-like robot and UNDP Innovation Champion since 2017, to take part in the Summit discussions. Sophia addressed the opening plenary and took part in a panel discussion on public services.

“Robots are already helping people with physical disabilities to live fuller and more independent lives. Using new technology, we can design public services that will be crafted for their needs. Robots like me can also help governments establish more effective communication with people, gather feedback, improve the quality of services and create new ones,” Sophia said.

Sophia also visited Georgia’s largest Public Service Hall in Tbilisi, that showcases the country’s trademark reform in user-centred public service delivery, and met with the citizens, journalists and technology students.

The Fifth OGP Global Summit will conclude on 19 July with a summary discussion that will wrap-up a three-day exchange.

Georgia is the OGP Chair and Global Summit host country this year. In autumn 2018, Georgia will hand the OGP chairmanship over to Canada.

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