The Era of Civic Engagement / Enrique Peña Nieto

Enrique Peña Nieto – President of Mexico
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The history of humankind has been characterized by change, innovation and transformation. Society’s progress has always been accompanied by the development and evolution of technology.

In recent years, technology has impacted virtually every aspect of our lives: the way we communicate, learn, work and have fun. Internet, particularly social networks, has altered the very essence of the way we relate to each other.

The role of governments has not been exempt from change.

Today, society demands more transparent, open, responsive and efficient governments; modern, agile and above all, useful institutions. Those of us who have the privilege of serving society as public officials are obliged to leverage the power of technology to positively transform people’s lives.

Since the beginning of this administration, we have understood this: Internet and social networks are, above all, a democratizing element, a catalyst in the access to and exercise of rights for society, and a trigger for development and welfare. That is why we undertook an ambitious project that would allow us to realize the full potential of technology to transform the government, and thus better serve all Mexicans. First of all, we promoted a sweeping Communications Reform, which made this sector more modern and competitive, and implemented a National Digital Strategy to encourage the adoption and appropriation of technology in the country, and particularly to accelerate this process within the government.

In a short time, projects such as the National One – Stop Shop, the only portal for government services and information; Digital IMSS, which digitized social security procedures for millions of Mexicans; the Open Data Policy and Connected Mexico, providing free broadband for over 100,000 public spaces, to mention just a few, have reflected this transformation.

Technology also plays a key role in the construction of an Open Government to promote citizen participation, transparency and accountability. Examples include the exercises of participation and co-creation we conducted in www.gob.mx/participa and the consultations on the new educational model of the Education Secretariat, the Debate on Marijuana Use and the Ibero-American Youth Pact, where more than 50,000 people provided input, opinions and proposals that directly impacted the public positions and policies adopted.

The results of these efforts are plain to see:

– In just four years, the number of Internet users in Mexico increased by nearly 70% from 40.9 million in 2012 to 70 million in 2016.
– From 2014 to 2016, Mexico moved up 31 places in the UN’s E-Participation Index, and 16 places in its Online Services Index to 14th and 19th place respectively among the 193 nations in the study. In both indicators, our country is a leader in Latin America.
– We are among the top 10 countries in the OECD’s Open Data ranking, above countries such as Germany, Holland and Japan, as well as ranking first in Latin America.

Social networks have emerged as an instrument for gauging citizens’ views that is even more effective and faster than the media for addressing national problems and for finding out, in real time, what a significant part of society is thinking and feeling. That is why the government I lead has become the first in the history of our country to be fully present in social networks. And although there is still a long way to go before this route becomes an effective tool for interaction and support beyond unilateral communication, the gap is gradually being narrowed [1].

For the world’s governments, the challenge of social networks not only exists at the national level. Within the space of a few years, as a result of their adoption by more and more leaders, international politics has also had to adapt to this new era.

The responsibility in this case is enormous, because as president of a nation, you are not only in contact with the people in your country. When heads of state post to social media sites, they are practically speaking to the world’s citizens, and representing the views of millions of people. I am pleased that traditional diplomacy is evolving to new formats that are increasingly close, immediate and transparent in the world’s eyes.

As a country and as global players, we cannot afford to be left behind. The challenges the future holds require a freer, better trained, fairer and more united nation.

Given this scenario, my government decisively and responsibly assumes its role in achieving a Modern, Global Mexico, a Digital Mexico. México will continue its path to developing its maximum potential, and technology, fostered by citizens’ voices, will continue to be key for such transformation.

 

[1] The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), currently receives complaints and messages through its regional social media accounts, through which it provides personalized follow-up for every case. Another example is CAPUFE, Federal Access Roads and Bridges and Related Services, which supplies traffic reports and information to users on the state of the country’s roads.

 

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