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Can youth shape the future of anti-corruption?

Reflections from four young leaders on promoting integrity during COVID-19

Transparency School

“If not you, then who?” – is the main question that Transparency School alumni bring back to their countries in order to inspire change.

Every year, our team at Transparency International Lithuania hosts an intensive anti-corruption training for future leaders across the globe. At Transparency School, participants create an ever-growing community of active young leaders who work together to create and develop new ideas to promote integrity and anti-corruption.

This year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming school will take place online from 17-22 August 2020. Prior to this year’s virtual Transparency School, we asked four alumni to reflect on the recent trends and challenges in corruption around the world.

They came up with inspiring ideas and suggestions to encourage positive change amidst the current pandemic. Here’s what they said:

Public scrutiny: the most effective checks and balances

“In any vast global crisis, institutions are under pressure to act in a fast and effective manner. In every crisis, we find out how resilient and independent our institutions are as checks and balances that are in place in normal situations can be fragile and easy to influence by third parties in the context of an emergency.” – says Carina Paju, the Executive Director of Transparency International Estonia.

Carina Paju, Estonia, 2019 Transparency Fellow

To Carina, “The best way to uncover these weaknesses is through transparency – publication of procurements, contracts, purchases and any other measures taken during the emergency. When information is made available, the best and most effective checks and balance system of all kicks in – public scrutiny.”

Times of crisis pose opportunities to strengthen institutions

“Especially during the current pandemic, attempts to engage stakeholders and advocate for change is shifting and efforts are geared towards influencing policy and decision-making processes.” – reflects Anita Ayuah, who has been working in the NGO sector for the last five years.

Anita Ayuah (center), Ghana, 2018 Transparency Fellow together with Transparency School participants

However, despite the many challenges the current crisis presents, there are also new opportunities and measures that can be adopted: “Considering the difficult times we find ourselves in, it is necessary for institutions to revisit expenditure plans to avoid losses whilst exploring funding opportunities to keep their organizations running.”

Actions count in challenging anti-democratic practices

Currently the world is going through a pandemic that is debilitating to society physically, emotionally, and economically.

According to a Fernando Miramontes Forattini, who is now studying for a PhD in history, there is another important aspect to this pandemic: institutions are being constantly challenged by anti-democratic actions and corrupt practices.

The best way to fight these issues is to keep vigilant, continue to press for transparency and engage in every way we can.

“That is why this year’s Transparency School is extremely important, you will be able to meet amazing and engaging people and consider how you can find ways to positively impact this complex situation. Every action counts!”

Fernando Miramontes Forattini, Brazil, Transparency School 2019 alum

Young people are drivers of change

The importance of an active, enthusiastic, and connected youth is made clear by our alums.

“Youth is a dynamic and significant part of the world population. They are shapers of the future agenda and the holders of ideas and standards. Youth has all the capacity to thrive in the environment and lead the world.”

Muhammad Talib Uz Zaman, currently working in SEED Private Limited and Business Integrity Initiative of the UK Government, would advise young aspiring leaders to stick with their values, as the present environment needs ethical leadership more than ever. He says – “Remember, crises are temporary, values are permanent.”

Muhammad Talib Uz Zaman, Pakistan, Transparency School 2016 alum

How youth can make a difference

At Transparency School, we seek not only to address the issues of corruption, but also encourage young professionals to create networks and share experiences.

This summer will be the eleventh year we welcome inspiring young people to share their experiences and values. We will discuss challenges that the current pandemic will have on anti-corruption movements, democracy and governance. Stay tuned from 17-22 August for updates from our virtual Transparency School, where young people will have meaningful opportunities to meet peers from various countries, share ideas, create innovative solutions and enact change together.

Many thanks to our alumni: Carina Paju from Estonia, Transparency Fellow of 2019; Anita Ayuah from Ghana, Transparency Fellow of 2018; Fernando Miramontes Forattini from Brazil, Transparency School 2019 alum; and Muhammad Talib Uz Zaman from Pakistan, Transparency School 2016 alum.

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