BELIZE ADVANCES TO AN OPEN ADMINISTRATION WITH MULTISECTOR COLLABORATION
Belmopan-. At an event with the public sector, academia, civil society and youth, The Trust for the Americas, an NGO affiliated with the Organization of American States (OAS), wrapped up another chapter of the Open Government project “Transformation to an Open Public Administration in Belize”. These efforts, which aim to forward multisector collaboration and facilitate co-creation processes through social innovation, were implemented with the support of the US Embassy in Belmopan.
Among other guests, the event was attended by Hon. Kevin Bernard, Minister of Youth, Sports, and E-Governance; Mr. Jose Urbina, CEO of the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and E-Governance; Mr. Osmond Martinez, CEO of the Ministry of Economic Development; Mr. Luiz Coimbra, Representative of the OAS Belize Office; Mr. Leroy Almendarez, Director of BELTRAIDE; Ms. Alexia Peralta, Incoming Director for the E-governance and Digitalization Unit in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and E-Governance; Mr. Paco Smith, Good Governance and Anti-Corruption External Relations Liaison of the Belize Peace Movement; Mr. Rodrigo Iriani, Senior Program Manager DIA of The Trust for the Americas; Ms. Audrey Robin, Coordinator DIA Belize; and Ms. Christine Valerio, from the US Embassy in Belmopan. Mr. Jose Antonio García, Senior Regional Coordinator for the Americas at the Open Government Partnership (OGP), and Ms. Maricel Lonati, international expert and facilitator of the Belizean Open Government Action Plan, joined virtually.
Launched in 2019, the “Transformation to an Open Public Administration in Belize” project executed a series of webinars to promote an Open Government ecosystem in the country to strengthen its capacity towards transparency, participation, inclusion, and accountability; all crucial principles for the development of a National Open Government Action Plan.
During the event, Luiz Coimbra, OAS Representative in Belize, declared: “Open Government is the materialization of the right to access public information. It fosters citizen participation, a key element to consolidate democracy. Democracy by the citizens and for the citizens, where they not only want to receive information but also comment and participate in decision-making."
In 2020, in collaboration with the Department for Effective Public Management of the OAS and international experts, The Trust for the Americas, through the DIA initiative, supported the process for developing Belize’s first Open Government Action Plan, which contributes to defining priority areas in which Open Government could add more value to post-COVID-19 recovery efforts.
For its formulation, 170 participants engaged in five public multistakeholder co-creation sessions. Belizean citizens were also encouraged to get involved, which resulted in the submission of 40 valuable inputs that were taken into consideration to establish seven final commitments:
1. Establishing Open Government education in Belize.
2. Open data strategy for decision making in Belize.
3. Open Government in health services.
4. Improving transparency with Open Government: strengthening civil society participation in compliance with anti-Corruption conventions.
5. Digitalization of citizen procedures to prevent corruption and improve government’s accountability.
6. Ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of the GOB in its climate action/Paris Climate Agreement obligations, with a view toward increasing food security.
7. Integrated forest management database development.
During his presentation, Rodrigo Iriani, Senior Program Manager of DIA at The Trust for the Americas, mentioned that “at DIA - Democratizing Innovation in the Americas, we believe in governments, civil society, private companies and communities working together to positively impact people’s lives. This includes opening up and using public data for improving decision making.”
For the past two years, the Trust for the Americas has invited Belizean youth to participate in Hackathon competitions to promote the use of information and technology in addressing local challenges. In doing so, the Hackathons are generating a collaborative environment to come up with disruptive ideas to support the recovery phase after COVID-19.
Mr. Jose Urbina, CEO of the Ministry of Youth, Sports, and E-Governance, mentioned that “the pillars of Open Government and the use of emerging technologies to enhance public services are key. The use of data is imperative. Through this year’s regional Hackathon, Belizeans were engaged and challenged to solve community problems. We would like to champion this initiative moving forward,” while Mr. Osmond Martinez, CEO of the Ministry of Economic Development and Investment added that "Data has significant potential to provide innovative benefits for individuals, organizations and governments. We need to embrace these principles to solve the challenges we are facing in Belize. We are ready for Open Government and the action plan can successfully deliver that.”
For The Trust for the Americas, the Action Plan is a framework or reference that needs further consultation and improvement to continue Belize’s transformation to an open public administration. Nonetheless, the Action Plan surely represents a milestone in the journey the organization has embarked on to nurture the values of Open Government in the region.
About The Trust for the Americas:
The Trust for the Americas is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with the Organization of American States (OAS). It was established in 1997 to promote public and private sector participation in social and economic development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. Our initiatives, implemented through local partner organizations, seek to improve access to economic opportunities as well as to foster innovation in vulnerable communities in the hemisphere. To this end, The Trust also promotes social inclusion and good governance. The Trust has offices in Washington, D.C., Colombia, and Canada.
More information: www.trustfortheamericas.org