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Meeting on Government transparency and open government
17 March at 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
The Way Forward
Need more information and openness for your work on the environment?
New Zealand is a member of the international Open Government Partnership (OGP). This is an organisation that brings together governments and civil society organisations (NGOs) who believe better policy is made and higher quality services delivered when public participation and accountability are improved by governments being more open. Every two years, OGP member countries are required to develop a new National Action Plan (NAP), which will contain commitments to make progress on specific issues over the next two years. You can read the current NAP here, and reports on progress with delivery of the commitments.
The State Services Commission (SSC) has begun the work to develop the next Action Plan for New Zealand. The OGP’s rules require these plans to be ‘co-created’ with civil society – meaning those outside government should have an equal say in what the plan commits the government to doing. ECO’s work on this topic in the past has shown that our governments have performed poorly on co-creating the Action Plans.
Many people think about open government only in connection with the Official Information Act, and its local government counterpart. But there are many areas where openness – or the lack of it – impacts on environment and conservation issues. For example, the Zero Carbon Act locked in secrecy obligations applying to the Environmental Protection Authority and Climate Change Commission about emissions, and the emissions trading scheme Bill has a similar secrecy clause applying to the auction monitor.
The development of New Zealand’s OGP Action Plan is an opportunity to push for more openness on environmental issues. Whether its around data collection and publication on environmental issues (as highlighted by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment), more openness on decision making in relation to regulation of resources, mining, fishing, or to make progress on the Sustainable Development Goals and Indicators Aotearoa, it is our chance to push for better and more open processes. ECO would like a commitment that New Zealand will sign up to the Aarhus Convention on access to environmental information, participation in decision-making, and access to justice. This would create safeguards against attempts to weaken the RMA or to suspend environmental regulators such as ECAN. It would also make real progress with delivering on Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio Declaration.
The SSC has set up a website to collect ideas, but it is also holding a series of workshops and drop-in sessions over the next couple of months. The SSC has also said that if you would like to conduct a workshop in your community to discuss open government and the potential to take action through the National Action Plan they would like to talk to you. Please contact them through firstname.lastname@example.org – and please copy ECO in at email@example.com.
ECO urges its Members, Friends and Tieke readers to consider the issues where they want to see more openness and opportunities to participate in decision-making, and provide their thoughts either to us or directly to the SSC.
Monday 16 March 2020, 12.00 – 2.00pm
Bentley’s Lounge, University of Canterbury Student Association
Target audience: open to all
Please contact morag.mcconville@ssc.
Tuesday 17 March 2020 12.00 – 2.00pm
Lincoln Library, 22 Gerald Street, Lincoln, Canterbury
Drop-in Session – no registration required (feel free to drop in anytime between 12-2pm for a chat with the Open Government Team and to let us know your ideas!)
Target audience: open to all