OGP summit day one discussions included crises preparedness, education

Panel discussion at the Tallinn-hosted OGP Global Summit, September 6, 2023.
Panel discussion at the Tallinn-hosted OGP Global Summit, September 6, 2023. Source: Government Office

The first day of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Global Summit in Estonia brought panel discussions on a wide range of topics, from the state of democracy in an era of crisis to the opportunities presented by digital governance, to the fore.

State Secretary Taimar Peterkop, who sits on the OGP steering committee, said on Wednesday that: "We cannot be ready for all types of crises."

"What we can do is build a cohesive society together with our citizens to be ready to address crises. But we have to remember that to rely on civil society in times of crisis, you need to start building that trust and cooperation during peacetime," Peterkop went on, according to a government office press release.

One panel explored the role that technology and e-solutions play in improving education and developing strong and resilient democracies.

Participant Kersti Kaljulaid, Estonia's president 2016-2021, said: "I think we really need to rethink what school actually is."

"Back in the day, teachers gave children knowledge they had up to that point not had. But today, the situation is different as of 30 children in a classroom, there will be many different levels of knowledge. We also have to teach kids social skills – empathy, critical thinking, and debating skills. Schools have to be reformed – if you look outside it's not the 18th century, but if you look inside a classroom, it seems so."

A panel of Ukrainian officials and civil society leaders also talked about Ukraine's path to recovery after the war, and introduced a solution known as DREAM, an end-to-end digital platform which outlines all the steps involved in the reconstruction process, from funding to building.

Viktor Nestulia, Head of Ukraine Support at Open Contracting Partnership, said: "It's important to make sure that the reconstruction process takes into account the voices of all Ukrainians, including those who have been displaced."

"For this reason, we are using e-democracy to allow people to join teams and vote on the ideas received," Nestulia added.

A roundtable discussion also brought together high-level anti-corruption champions from government, civil society, and international partners, including those leading or engaged in collective action initiatives.

The final panel of the day discussed building resilience through open government partnerships. "During a crisis, people trust government more than usual and it's the time when you need civil society the most," Salil Shetty, Vice President of Open Society Foundations, opened.

"In times of peace, the government's goals and those of civil society often do not align. For example, civil society groups may call for more openness and reforms to better include them in decision-making, which takes time and effort for governments. However, in times of crisis, these two groups often unite to solve the problem," added Steph Mucai, program director for Governance and Anti-corruption at the International Lawyers Project.

The two-day OGP summit continues today. The day's itinerary is here.

The summit is predominantly held in the Telliskivi Creative City (Loomelinnak).

Top U.S. diplomat Samantha Power and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas are taking part in events today, Thursday.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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