Introducing AGORA, the Portal for Parliamentary Development
by Lotte Geunis, Parliamentary Development Officer, United Nations Development Programme— Jan 13, 2016
Since its launch in 2010, the AGORA Portal for Parliamentary Development has worked with over a dozen global, regional, and national partners to support parliamentary development actors across the globe. AGORA was called into life to provide swift and cost-effective knowledge management solutions for parliamentary development actors. Available in English, French and Arabic, it is the leading online hub for parliamentary development.
Why a Knowledge Portal?
Parliaments are uniquely positioned to design, implement, and follow up on development projects, including the Sustainable Development Goals. By enacting legislation that enables lasting positive change, parliaments can and should be at the forefront of international development cooperation. Yet many don’t have the institutional capacity to deliver on these objectives. Limited staff, resources and, in a regrettable number of cases, a lack of independence hinder their work.
Faced with repeated calls for information and resources, AGORA’s Implementing Partners – the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, and the National Democratic Institute – joined forces to build a knowledge portal. In March 2010, AGORA was formally launched at the French National Assembly in the presence of over 200 parliamentarians.
How AGORA Supports Parliaments Around the World
AGORA collects and shares information on all aspects of parliamentary work (law-making, representation, and oversight). Popular features include a daily news feed, an extensive resource library with knowledge pages and parliamentary action points, and a blog (contributions welcome!).
The portal also delivers tools and resources tailored to specific topics. These features are available free of charge to the entire AGORA community. Recent highlights include:
- Climate change: Informed decision-making is critical to effective parliamentary action on climate change. Exploring the causes and consequences of climate change, however, requires time and resources that most legislators simply do not have. Developed with the support of the World Bank, AGORA’s Climate Portal offers news, resources, and materials. AGORA also offers a virtual Toolkit on climate change and energy, to be used in workshops and training sessions.
- Arab states: In the wake of the Arab Spring and the many institutional changes that followed, AGORA worked with UNDP Tunisia to launch an Arabic Portal for parliamentarians and parliamentary staff in the region. Today, almost one third of AGORA’s visitors come from the Arab States.
- Lusophone states: AGORA’s Portuguese Corner caters to the parliaments of the Portuguese speaking African countries (PALOP) and Timor-Leste. Developed in cooperation with the Pro PALOP-TL SAI project, the Portuguese Corner focuses on issues of particular relevance to PALOP-TL, including budget oversight, climate change, and gender issues.
Online Learning: the AGORA e-Learning Portal
Following extensive partner and user consultations, AGORA was re-launched in 2013 to accommodate the increasing demand for interactive learning and capacity building. It now hosts a state of the art e-learning portal with courses designed for parliaments, parliamentary staff, and practitioners. With over 700 registered users to date, this portal is a flexible, fun and cost-effective way to support parliamentary actors everywhere.
Current offerings include:
- The Parliaments in Practice: an Introduction course: aimed legislators and staff who are new to parliament, the course provides a basic introduction to the operations of parliaments. It is also widely enjoyed by practitioners, civil society, and others who want to learn more about parliamentary work.
- The Parliaments, Civil Society and Climate Change course: In the context of the Paris Conference of Parties (COP), this new e-learning module builds on the many success stories and best practices shared on AGORA’s Climate Portal. It explores citizen engagement initiatives to inspire more effective and responsive climate action.
AGORA will continue to provide knowledge management and capacity-building support in 2016, in close cooperation with its partners. Upcoming features include a brand new Portal for Parliaments on Extractive Industries, e-Learning courses on Public Financial Management and Open Budgeting, and policy briefs on budgeting for the Sustainable Development Goals, climate finance, and migration. Last but not least, AGORA will be launching a mobile app to better accommodate the growing numbers of its visitors who access the Portal on their mobile devices.
Get in Touch!
AGORA relies on the inputs of its audience in deciding what resources to publish, what tools to develop, and what content to share. Are there issues we should be covering, publications we are lacking, or organizations we should partner with? Do you want to share a blog post, or send us an update for our monthly newsletter? For any and all of the above, contact the AGORA team at [email protected] or get in touch with Lotte Geunis.