Pursuing inclusiveness, sustainable development and accountability in budgets is paramount, even more so in a world where the pandemic has aggravated poverty levels and inequality. The COVID-19 emergency relief and response packages have shown how government’s spending is crucial for saving lives, jobs and economic prospects. Our efforts must continue to be vigorous and purposeful, but, at the same time, safe. As such, in 2021, the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) will re-launch its two open data use and engagement initiatives through online and remote platforms. The #BetterBudgetDataquest for Sustainable Development and the Public Infrastructure #DataRallyFromHome (formerly #DataOnTheStreets Rally) will go fully VIRTUAL this year.
Evidence is clear: in order to close feedback loops and create a better culture of accountability, transparency is not enough. It is the demand side, the people, the users, who have the potential, with their energy and active participation, to bring about lasting, trustworthy change, change that will hopefully be accompanied by closer relationships between governments and their people.
It is important to note that government-civil society partnerships are light touch and scalable participation initiatives that enable collaboration in semi-formal flexible settings, providing for dialogue among different stakeholders, that can lead to the achievement of specific objectives related to sustainable development. Examples of incorporation of citizen’s inputs that directly impact the budget cycle are the Citizen Participatory Audit
in the Philippines, New Zealand’s Wellbeing Budget
Initiative in South Korea. Such partnerships bring together the GIFT agenda on different levels, as they: rely on digital publication tools, including the strategic collection of data towards defined purposes, embrace user-centered publication and open data
; encourage the adoption of participation
mechanisms, while simultaneously establishing bases for collaboration among stakeholders of different sectors; and are strengthened through peer-learning
at the international level, as practitioners from civil society and government in different countries co-create the mechanisms and share their specific focus, methods and lessons learned.
With that in mind and considering the rich experiences of the rallies and data quests held since 2016, GIFT is pleased to call on government-civil society partnerships around the world to join our advocacy for inclusiveness and better budgets through public participation initiatives
. In 2021, we invite you to host a rally and/or a data quest during the first semester of the year, preferably aligning its launch with the International Open Data Day
on March 6th March, or with the Open Government Week
from 17 to 21 May, for maximum international resonance.