4 Responses

  1. paul
    paul January 5, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    Great insight, the Roman Empire was the greatest human administration the world had ever seen. Roman legislation was so effective that it is still the basis of the legal code of many countries. Despite Rome’s achievements, however, her legions were unable to conquer one insidious enemy: corruption. Finally, corruption hastened Rome’s downfall.

  2. Jeremy Sandbrook
    Jeremy Sandbrook November 23, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    An interesting article Grant. Taking a broader view though, it’s a shame that corruption has ended up subsumed into a mishmash of topics under SDG-16. Both the World Bank as well as the UN have for a number of years now, has rated corruption as the single greatest obstacle to reducing world poverty. According to the World Economic Forum and the World Bank recent data suggests that corruption now costs around 5% of global GDP – or US$2.3 Trillion per annum – and increases the costs of doing business by up to 10% (globally)! Now the third largest industry globally, it’s also on the rise. For those of us who have worked at the coal face, this comes as no surprise, as the direct daily impact (and damage) that corruption has on all sectors of society – in particular the poorest of the poor – can be seen everyday.

    Unfortunately, corruption and the SDG’s is yet another case of a lost opportunity, as rather then reducing corruption to the flow of illicit funds (which in itself shifts the focus to transnational financial flows), corruption should have been an SDG in its own rights. By doing this, it would have enabled the selection of a multiple set of indicators / quasi-indicators and measurements that in turn, would have enabled a more contextualised and nuanced approach to the problem.

    My fear at the moment, is that in its current form the SDGs – when it comes to corruption – will end up a failure, as not only with the topic not get the political focus so desperately needed, but will end up buried behind a host of competing topics.

    1. Grant Walton
      Grant Walton November 25, 2015 at 9:46 am

      Thanks for the comment Jeremy.

      I wouldn’t place too much faith in the figures that the World Bank ($1trillion for bribery) and World Economic Forum ($2.6trillion for ‘corruption’) produce – because of the nature of corruption it’s almost impossible to put any real numbers to it. And because of this there are competing numbers about how big corruption is. Having said this I agree that corruption is a key problem for developing countries.

      Yes, the mishmash of topics, not only within SDG 16 but across all of the SDGs, is unfortunate and means that the SDGs will likely lack focus. I guess that is what you get when trying to increase ownership among such a long list of stakeholders. Personally I’d like to see a pared down version of the SDGs that focus on what I see as more central concerns, such as education, food security, economic poverty, etc. Rather than having a separate SDG, in my world corruption would be a key strategy for achieving these core aims.

      Unfortunately it is too late to reshape the SDGs themselves, but it is not too late to shape the indicators – particularly those given a grey status. Hence my blog.

      In terms of the SDGs ‘failing’ to address corruption, that will depend on 1. the validity of the indicators and 2. how we expect to these indicators to perform over time. And discussion around the latter has not yet happened, but need will need to once the indicators have been set.

      Thanks again for the thoughtful comments.

  3. Alex Erskine
    Alex Erskine November 19, 2015 at 7:46 am

    Very useful and informative post, thank you.

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