No sustainable development without tackling corruption: the importance of tracking SDG 16

No sustainable development without tackling corruption: the importance of tracking SDG 16

On the 10th of July the United Nations’ High Level Political Forum on sustainable development began in New York. The Forum’s aim is to take stock of how far countries have progressed towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious set of development targets to be met by 2030.  

Starting today and running until 19th July, governments from forty four countries are scheduled to present reports on their work towards meeting the SDGs. Transparency International is there to share its own experience measuring progress towards meeting Goal 16, “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”. Goal 16 includes commitments to fight corruption, increase transparency, tackle illicit financial flows and improve access to information.

While Goal 16 itself is not due for comprehensive review until 2019, there is a broad consensus that without meaningful action to reduce corruption, progress towards the other goals is likely to be extremely limited.

Corruption represents a major obstacle to reaching all the SDG goals as it hampers economic growth and increases poverty, depriving the most marginalised groups of equitable access to vital services such as healthcare, education and water and sanitation. Nor is corruption only an issue for low-income states; rich countries must take action on cross-border corruption, foreign bribery, tax evasion and related illicit financial flows which collectively deprive developing countries of around US$1.26 trillion per year.

With corruption, there's no sustainable development.

José Ugaz Chair Transparency International

Given the scale of the problem and its devastating impact on sustainable development, Transparency International chapters and partners in 12 of these countries (Argentina, Afghanistan, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Jordan, the Maldives, Nigeria, Portugal and Peru) are presenting civil society parallel reports based on a common methodology that assesses each government’s progress towards SDG 16. All the Latin American results are presented in a regional report published last Friday.

Transparency International’s contribution is key to both holding governments to account and identifying specific recommendations for anti-corruption action. These civil society parallel reports also provide a range of alternative indicators and datasets allowing a broader understanding of corruption beyond that captured by the official global indicators, which are limited to measuring bribery in narrow terms.

Transparency International hopes that these reports will generate policy discussion and reforms at the international, national and sub-national level to clamp down on corruption and ensure that no-one is left behind when it comes to implementing the SDGs.


Legal and institutional scorecards

Transparency International chapters and partners are conducting parallel reporting exercises to assess the strength of the legal and institutional frameworks in up to 17 different policy areas related to SDG 16.4, 16.5 and 16.10 in their countries. You can find scorecards at the bottom of this page and an example from Nigeria below.

How to read the scorecard

The scores are out of 100 show the strength (or weakness) of the legal framework that is currently in place in each area of the policy areas covered, based on the parallel reporting methodology. The scores are plotted on the bands as indicated in the key. There is a list of policy areas covered beneath the graphic (not all parallel reports cover all 17 different areas) and the score for each area is placed within a band depending on the score.

The scores read clockwise, starting with the first listed policy area between noon and one o’clock. In an ideal world, the scores for all 17 different policy areas would sit in the outer-most green band.

In the Nigerian example below, the scorecard starts with anti-money laundering legislation between noon and one o’clock. Nigeria is found to have a generally good legal framework for anti-money laundering (73 per cent), largely in line with international best practice, although there is room for improvement.

Progressing clockwise around the graphic, the next area is beneficial ownership, which scores 34 per cent, indicating considerable room for improvement.. The same applies to asset recovery mechanisms in the country (33 per cent). Nigeria’s laws regarding arms trafficking are judged to be sound (100 per cent). The remaining percentage scores relating to each policy area are displayed in clockwise order around the rest of the graphic.


Please note that the scorecards are an appraisal of the de jure situation in a given country and do not assess compliance with the legislative framework or the effectiveness of its implementation. Please also note that, as different data is available in different countries and not all questions are applicable in each jurisdiction, country scores cannot be compared. The legal scorecard is simply intended to demonstrate areas at national level in which reform of the legislative and institutional framework is most urgently needed. 

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