International knowledge exchange about effective ways to strengthen public construction transparency based on Korea’s experience

Dec 2, 2015

Participants at the International Workshop for Public Construction Transparency: Sharing Korea's Clean Construction System and Initiatives around the World." (Photo: Seoul Metropolitan Government)

On 2-4 December 2015, the United Nations Development Programme  (UNDP) Seoul Policy Centre  is organizing the “International Workshop for Public Construction Transparency: Sharing Korea’s Clean Construction System and Initiatives around the World” in partnership with the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea.

This workshop brings together, Seoul City officials and their partners, with over 70 overseas participants consisting of senior government representatives, UNDP practitioners, and civil society leaders from some 20 countries from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Arab region.  In addition, experts from prominent international networks, such as the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative and the Open Contracting Partnership, took part in the meetings.

The workshop will facilitate peer-to-peer policy dialogues and thematic discussions to identify effective means to promote transparency and accountability in the public construction sector, using the Anti-Corruption Clean Construction System of the City of Seoul as a reference point and inspiration.

The Clean Construction System, introduced in 2011, provides an effective technological and institutional approach to enhancing transparency, efficiency, and the protection of construction workers’ rights in the public construction sector.

The system won the prestigious UN Public Service Award in 2013, in recognition of its innovation and potential for application in other countries.

 “Endemic corruption in public infrastructure projects continues to damage the development potential in many, many countries. Therefore, we need approaches like Seoul’s Clean Construction System to spread across the world, to ensure that taxpayers’ investments in infrastructure actually lead to development dividends for all citizens,” said Anne Marie Sloth Carlsen, Director of UNDP Seoul Policy Centre in her welcome remarks this morning at the Seoul City Hall.

The Mayor of Seoul, Mr. Won Soon Park, said in his keynote speech: “Our experience shows that we can ensure a more transparent construction sector by simply informing people about the kind of work being carried out in their neighborhoods. By disclosing Seoul’s construction work information on the Construction Informer website, all the stakeholders, from private contractors to the responsible Seoul government officials, came to adopt a more transparent, responsible, and accountable administration of our public construction development.”

“This international workshop in Seoul comes at the strategic time, after the adoption of the new 2030 Agenda with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by world leaders in New York in September this year. The SDGs include targets on both infrastructure development and anti-corruption – and for good reasons,” said Patrick Keuleers, Director and Chief of Profession, Governance and Peacebuilding, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP Headquarters in New York.

Mr. Jae-wan Lee, Deputy Director-General for Development Cooperation of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs also noted the significance of this meeting in terms of Korea’s development cooperation: “Our development cooperation efforts reflect Korea’s genuine desire to give back to the international community out of our own history of rising from the ashes of the Korean War and becoming a donor country. In this context, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been supporting the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre since 2011, with the objective of brokering new partnerships between Korea and the developing world through UNDP networks.”

The meeting provides an opportunity for international and Korean participants to share their experiences and identify effective strategies and opportunities to promote transparency and accountability in the public construction sector.  

“The Clean Construction System is one of the most outstanding international transparency initiatives. The Seoul Metropolitan Government has moved beyond rhetoric and developed and implemented a practical system that works. It promotes transparency, but it goes further with the incorporation of its subcontractor payment system. The importance of paying in full and on time should not be underestimated and I am looking forward to learning more about how the subcontractor payment system works.” said Mr. Petter Matthews, Director of the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative.

The workshop is organized as part of the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre Development Solutions Partnership on anti-corruption. The Development Solutions Partnerships is the Centre’s approach to connect Korea with the wider UNDP network as a knowledge broker and facilitator and contribute to the enhancement of the Korea-UNDP partnership on strategic development issues.

The Clean Construction System was presented at the 2015 Seoul Debates meeting on anti-corruption on 29-30 January of this year, as one of several Korean anti-corruption initiatives. Participants expressed interest in learning more about the system. Since then, USPC and the Seoul Metropolitan Government have worked together to prepare for more in-depth sharing of the system, and this workshop is one of the milestones of these efforts.

After almost five decades, UNDP closed its Country Office in 2009 as Korea joined the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and became an official donor. With this changed status of Korea, the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre for Global Development Partnerships was established in 2011, with the objective of brokering new partnerships between Korea and the developing world through UNDP’s global network with more than 170 offices in countries and territories.

The workshop takes place on 2-4 December, 2015 at the Seoul City Hall, Republic of Korea.

Contact information

Ms. Hye-Jin Park in Seoul at hyejin.park@undp.org