[In this op-ed, Nathaniel Heller, R4D’s executive vice president for integrated strategies, discusses open government and why it matters in Nepal.]
In mid-September, world leaders will gather in New York City for the UN General Assembly meetings to tackle a range of thorny sustainable development and geopolitical challenges. Among the most important challenges is how to rebuild trust in government.
In dozens and dozens of countries around the world, public opinion polling shows public trust in government and public institutions at an all-time low, regardless of geography or income levels. Nepal is no stranger to this conversation; successive governments have been wracked by corruption and public financial management crises, with many observers lamenting the political class’ habit of “recycling” leadership at the top despite their involvement in previous scandals.
Can Nepal break this cycle and rebuild trust in government? Perhaps. But it will take sustained political leadership and a commitment to embracing the country’s ongoing decentralization efforts, in order to cement principles of transparency, accountability and participation from the grassroots all the way up to Kathmandu. This is Nepal’s open government moment.