Here’s the good news. Governments this week will adopt a new set of goals to change the world – but for the first time, their promises also include an end to corruption. This is a big leap forward from 2000 when global development goals were first set out. Now, the aim is to create a world free of extreme poverty, where all children are in school and in good health; where climate change is properly handled; where there is good governance and justice for all.
This is a step we have long awaited. Goal 16 – which pledges a peaceful world, one with access to justice and open and accountable institutions – recognises the development dividend from governance. We know that widespread bribery is associated with higher maternal mortality and more children dying before they even reach the age of five. In the poorest countries, one out of every two people has to pay a bribe to access basic services like education, health and water.
In setting new universal and global commitments world leaders finally recognise the corrosive effect of corruption on the lives of the world’s most vulnerable and are prepared to act.
But here’s the challenge. These global promises need concrete actions, not empty words. Policies for development and policies for anti-corruption must finally be one in the same. It is all of our responsibility to ensure this happens over the next 15 years.
What happens next?
We need ambitious action plans with the right indicators to track progress. The level of bribery, for example, is a key indicator that can be used to help monitor more than just Goal 16.
We need feedback and monitoring to make sure we are measuring the right things and the flexibility to readjust the process. Corruption must be eliminated to ensure it does not prevent us achieving a better world.
- All governments – from Australia to Zimbabwe – should set out 180-day plans for how they are going to roll-out the goals and targets at the national and local level in their countries.
- The UN must make monitoring bribery a priority at the global level as part of tracking country progress on the global goals.
- NGOs should publicise what they can do to implement the goals, including programmes and resources.
- Private sector needs to report how they will deliver on the agenda, such as through their sustainability reports.
A single indicator cannot measure everything – we need to have a 360-degree feedback loop. Transparency International (TI) along with civil society can help here and compliment government efforts. TI can offer our findings about levels of people’s experience with bribery as well as local corruption.
Data from different sources, like NGOs, companies and others, is essential. Data must be open: shareable, comparable, accessible, timely and understandable. This is the only way to be able to correlate and use it, making data powerful.
Monitoring and accountability
Having the right indicators will only work if there is a system in place that can track them and respond to the picture that they reveal. The new agreement outlines that monitoring should happen regionally, nationally, and locally. This must be the case. Local people have the right to know and participate in sustainable development. To this end:
- Governments must create a monitoring framework that builds on existing processes and is evidence-based. For example, other review processes – whether on open governance, human rights or anti-corruption – are happening. These need to be aligned together and tapped into.
- Governments must create a system that can be easily implemented locally and feed results up globally. For example, the TI chapter in Uganda is using mobile phones with Internet access to allow anyone to check the amount of government money pledged to each school and health clinic – and the amount actually spent. This information also needs to be fed back globally to cross-check if progress is on track for the new goals.
- Private sector and NGOs need to report back on how they are delivering. The hard numbers should be aligned to international reporting standards so they can be quickly gathered and compared. IATI, an open data standard, offers a good solution.
Read the blog post "New milestone in fight against global corruption" by Frank Vogl, co-founder of Transparency International
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