Filed under: Development 2.0 Governance Health Poverty Social inclusion

In just over two years – by the end of 2015 – the Millennium Development Goals will expire.

Much has been accomplished, but where do we go from here?

Georgia has recently joined in Post-2015 conversations to have a say in the development of the world’s future development agenda.

Georgia’s participation in this global dialogue is crucial. It is a rare opportunity to influence the next global development agenda and also to hear the voices of the people.

A MY World campaign was recently rolled out in Georgia, which allows citizens to vote for their top development priorities. Along with online voting, consultations are underway across the country.

By mid- September, over 1,500 Georgians took part in the MYWorld survey. Around 900 people voted through the website and 651 people participated in Post-2015 focus group consultations in 11 cities and towns, organized by the Institute for Policy Studies in partnership with UNDP in Georgia. The focus group discussions involved a wide range of social groups, including religious, ethnic, and sexual minorities, ex-prisoners and drug-addicts, the displaced, the elderly and people living in poverty.

Young people are at the forefront of Post-2015 activities with the Georgian Youth Parliament taking an active role in organizing meetings, focus group discussions, and spreading the word through social media.

Of the choices listed in the MY World survey, most Georgians are so far identifying an honest and responsible government and good education as their most important priorities for the future.

Education is at the top of the list for young Georgians, along with better healthcare, better job opportunities, and protection against crime and violence.

While voting continues, the first results are already taking shape. With the new national development strategy currently being developed by the Government of Georgia – the first in ten years – the MY World survey presents a unique opportunity. The initial findings will be brought to the attention of the Government to be incorporated into policy discussions at the national level.

What’s next?

4 photos in a row, 2 boys and 2 girls, in a back and white serie of photos

Georgians will soon be able to vote for development priorities via SMS

Ideally, decision makers will report back to the public, providing insight into how the survey findings influenced various decision-making processes nationwide, and potentially providing the public with the opportunity to provide further feedback.

If institutionalized, this exchange of information between the public and the country’s decision makers could be a positive first step toward the vision of a more honest and more open government.

The plan is also to explore micronarratives – collecting stories from citizens to drill deeper into the top priorities that citizens identify during MY World voting and feedback. The methodology behind micronarratives prompts people to tell meaningful stories that they themselves interpret (so no “expert” opinion), and the stories are run through sophisticated software and charted and mapped – by topic, age, sex, location, sentiment and more.

It will make it easier to report back on progress – by reflecting sentiment that comes directly from citizens. And a constant stream of stories can also help the Government, and development organizations plan and change tack, see things coming ahead of time, spot trends, and do powerful advocacy. (Also see the experience of Global Giving and Nominet Trust with narratives ).

We’re also pretty excited about some of our plans to reach out to even more people – using the Elva platform (which we’re also using for community-led safety along the boundary line with South Ossetia) we’re about to launch an SMS system on MY World to capture even more citizen input (in 2013, mobile penetration reached 130 percent).

Stay tuned! We’ll keep you posted on the feedback from citizens, and what happens with it.

By the way, have you voted yet? Have your say!