Integrity of public institutions as an accelerator for attaining the SDGs discussed at HLPF 2017

Jul 11, 2017

New York, July 10 Government officials, UN practitioners and heads and members of prominent international NGOs such as Transparency International took part in a dialogue today in New York on practical and innovative measures to nurture integrity in public institutions to accelerate the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a side event of this year’s High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) focusing on the theme of eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world.

The event was co-organized by the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre (USPC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea.

SDG 16 of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development recognizes that “effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels” are essential for preventing governance failures, such as corruption in the public sector, that can lead to government ineffectiveness, misallocation of resources and loss of public trust. Yet, nurturing integrity in public institutions remains a common challenge across the world, even for those who have achieved rapid economic growth.

Emphasizing that “fighting corruption is not an option but a necessary building block of a prosperous and sustainable future,” Mr. Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Assistant Secretary-General of the UN and Assistant Administrator of UNDP, added that “today’s event is about much more than just Goal 16. The integrity of public institutions creates an enabling environment for the achievement of the entire sustainable development agenda. Most, if not all of the targets under the other goals, will require a robust institutional capacity to translate global priorities into real progress at national and local levels.”

The event was an occasion for participants to share the knowledge and experience on policy approaches that have proven to be effective in countries around the world. In particular, presenters from Korea’s Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) and Anti-corruption & Civil Right Commission (ACRC) offered insights on how they successfully contributed to strengthening the country’s public sector integrity.

Mr. Kyeongho Park, Vice Chairperson of ACRC, presented on the Anti-Corruption Initiative Assessment (AIA), a policy tool that systematically encourages public institutions to undertake anti-corruption efforts  by assessing the effectiveness of public sector organizations in implementing the government’s anti-corruption policies and initiatives. An annual exercise for corruption prevention in Korea since 2002, all assessment scores are publicized, and organizations are ranked each year.

“The integrity of public institutions is not something abstract. It is an output of business processes and conscious actions. And public institutions only change when there are clear guidance and incentives for behavioral changes,” noted Mr. Park. “AIA helps guide anti-corruption efforts across the public sector with clarity, predictability and incentives, and contributes to increasing the integrity of the public sector as a whole,” he added.

Mr. Inseok Koh, Assistant Mayor of the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), offered lessons for policymakers based on the experience of the “Clean Construction System” (CCS), which is a system for open data and efficient management of public infrastructure projects. CCS consists of the One Project Management Information System (One-PMIS), a systematic and effective real-time management tool, and the Construction Information Disclosure System (“Allimi” in Korean) which automatically transmits about 90% of the construction project management data for public access.

Ambassador Choonghee Hahn, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, noted that “Korea has rigorously pursued a comprehensive approach to anti-corruption as part of its public administration reform. As a result, Korea has achieved significant progress in enhancing the integrity of our public institutions, and has many good practices and innovative tools to share, particularly in the area of corruption prevention in public institutions. Based on this experience, today, we pay particular attention to SDG16, understanding the virtuous cycle between building effective institutions and achieving positive changes in the economy and society.”

USPC, with the support of the Republic of Korea, works closely with partners to convey Korea’s development experience and policies to help countries achieve their priorities for sustainable development under the Centre’s Development Solutions Partnership (DSP). Initiated in 2014, the DSP on Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Systems, and the DSP on Open Data and Public Construction Management, utilize a triangular development cooperation modality involving UNDP, Korea, and developing countries, with USPC serving as a “translator” and facilitator of knowledge sharing and application of Korea’s experiences.

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