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GIFT Newsletter #42
WHAT IS THE
FUTURE OF
DEMOCRACY?

 1 Populism, Artificial Intelligence & Evidence-based Policy Making
NOVA School of Business and Economics / Cascais, Portugal
October 15 to 18th

Challenges for democracy institutions, rise of fake news and decaying trust in government, is the reality we are presently facing, which is different from the situation a mere decade ago. Such issues require, more than ever, use of evidence in policy making, enabling fact checking, an informed citizenry and reflections of ethics and technology. These topics were broadly discussed at the second edition of the Smart Citizenship Academy.

There are trends that show that Artificial Intelligence, if continued in the same path, might lead to a higher concentration of wealth, further separating the productivity factor from real income. Addressing the forum of the Smart Citizenship Academy about this topic, Arlindo Oliveira cited Amara’s Law “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run, and underestimate its effect in the long run”.

In this context, we are reminded one more time that the debate is not just about publishing data, but what data, how it is gathered and how it is used. This is even having implications on the front of the participatory budgeting debate, where there is emerging research to better evaluate the social impact of such mechanisms beyond the output indicators, such as number of participants, completed projects or allocated amount -to know more about this, follow Nelson Dias on Linkedin and @PBProject on Twitter.

We thank the Municipality of Cascais and the New School of Business and Economics of Portugal for the GIFT Network as partners for this second Smart Citizenship Academy. Registering the participation of more than 80 representatives from 20 countries, the Workshop provided a space for reflection, debate, and co-creation on more ways for inclusive public policy and citizen participation. GIFT was in charge of organizing a workshop on public participation in the budget process at the national level, ensuring the participation of Network members from the governments of South Africa and Colombia, as well as civil society representatives from Chile.

Check out the newly launched Participatory Budgeting World Atlas, and the Academy website, where all presentations will be soon available.

 2 The International Budget Partnership (IBP) organized the second workshop on independent budget analysis for Francophone Africa CSOs with GIFT's support
Cotonou, Benin
October 2 to 4th

With the participation of a dozen representatives from seven countries (Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Republique Democratique du Congo, Chad, Republic of Congo), a three-day discussion with Francophone Africa civil society experts took place in Cotonou. Benin is the house of two GIFT Stewards, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and Social Watch, Benin. Both organizations played an important role in the workshop. Participants had the opportunity to confirm that budget analysis is more than a technical exercise, as it can be a strategic tool for social change.

This allowed them to reflect on the budget ecosystem in their own countries and in the Francophone West and Central Africa region, and discuss
Principles of Public Participation in Fiscal Policy, exploring the role of civil society as a budget accountability actor.

 3 Captured Democracies: Challenges for Latin America
Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas / Mexico City, Mexico
October 24 and 25

“In recent months there have been a series of demonstrations and empirical evidence that democracies in Latin America are in a moment of weakness. This moment is associated with what has been called as the capture of the States, the capture of the public, of the budgets, of the decisions and of the public positions” according to Jaime Hernández Colorado. We need to reflect on the challenges faced by Latin America so that the public interest remains above private interests, the public administration is accountable, the living conditions of citizens are improved, and the institutions are shielded so that they are not deviated from their objectives.

Watch the
live recording (in Spanish) of this forum where problems such as corruption and democratic capture were analyzed and discussed. GIFT was part of the discussion and shared network countries’ experience on the role of public participation as a way to improve the efficiency and impact in the use of public resources, the provision of public goods and services, empower citizens, and produce sustainable development more broadly.

 4 Evaluation of public services: case of Benin
Social Watch Benin

Collecting and publishing data on non-financial performance indicators is the new imperative to improve the quality of the debate regarding budget allocations and how to improve service delivery. Read here about the role of civil society organizations in Benin in the evaluation of an important indicator for national education, that has produced a positive response of the Beninese government through the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

In case you missed it, read a related story of the case of fortified milk delivery in Argentina.

The Fiscal Openness Accelerator:
public participation pilot project in several GIFT countries

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs awarded a grant to IBP and GIFT for piloting public participation mechanisms in fiscal policies at national level in selected African countries. The main objective of the project is to build the technical capacity of a number of governments to implement mechanisms for public participation in the fiscal policies cycle at the national level. Over a period of 36 months, the grant will allow IBP and GIFT to ensure technical collaboration and support to Benin, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa, to establish meaningful and practical public participation mechanisms and create opportunities for dialogue between civil society and public finance authorities on the use of public resources.

As part of this effort, IBP and GIFT held a Building Public Participation in Budgeting workshop in Washington in July, with the attendance of representatives from budget offices from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, and South Africa. The workshop set the basis for a fruitful conversation and provided extremely valuable information for the project. It also confirmed that these GIFT member governments are part of a growing community that shares the commitment to promoting public participation with impact in public finances.

There will be many opportunities and ways in which you can join the Fiscal Openness Accelerator! Stay tuned!

COMMUNITY WALL
Open Government Partnership Global (OGP) Report: Democracy Beyond the Ballot Box

The promise of democracy is often defined by the ballot box, where citizens determine who will represent their interests in government. The threats to democracy are coming from outside of the electoral process and our response must be found there too. Both the problem and the solution lie “beyond the ballot box.”
 
In the eight years since OGP’s founding, 79 countries and a growing number of local governments–have joined the Partnership. Collectively, they have made more than 3,800 reform commitments. But questions remain: Are these commitments impactful? Do they target our society’s most pressing challenges? Are they resulting in a more collaborative, accountable way of governing? And, importantly, are they helping to protect democracy between elections?
 
Read the complete report
here.

UPCOMING EVENTS
 GPSA Global Partners Forum 2019 
November 19-21

The Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) will once again convene its partners, a global network of practitioners and thought leaders from across civil society, governments, academia, foundations and business, alongside World Bank professionals to put the spotlight on the power of collaborative social accountability in addressing governance challenges and improving development outcomes. This year the Forum is organized in partnership with the Open Society Foundations and the Public Service Accountability Monitor (GIFT Steward) and will focus on the role of social accountability in meeting the challenge of inclusion in public governance. 

GIFT will be part of the breakout: Inclusive budgeting journeys; successes, challenges and innovation in South Africa and Mexico in achieving inclusive national budgeting, Tuesday, November 19, 1:00 – 2:30

Join us in shaping and advancing the social accountability agenda for the next years.

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A multi-stakeholder action network to advance fiscal transparency, participation and accountability worldwide.

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