Webinar on “Integrated Approach to Socio-economic Response to COVID-19: UNDP Offer 2.0, Reflections on Anti-corruption, and Experiences from Korea,” was jointly hosted by UNDP Seoul Policy Centre (USPC) and Global Anti-Corruption Team on 4 August 2020. Although there is widespread understanding that COVID-19 impacts governance systems, processes and institutions, existing socio-economic impact analyses have not particularly analysed the impact of COVID-19 on transparency, accountability and anti-corruption. Hence, this webinar provided an overview of UNDP Offer 2.0 and showcased how anti-corruption can be integrated into socio-economic crisis analysis, with example from the Republic of Korea (RoK).

USPC Director Mr. Stephan Klingebiel opened the session by noting the significance of this webinar collaboration as it will “synergize our efforts in supporting national governments fighting important issues like corruption in this difficult time of COVID-19.”

UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director Mr. Haoliang Xu further highlighted the necessity of an integrated approach to COVID-19 recovery because “governance, in which the issue of corruption is really important, acts as a critical enabler that will underpin progressive socio-economic change, looking beyond recovery and towards 2030.”

Main discussion points of this webinar consist of following three themes: the UNDP offer 2.0 and socio-economic impact of COVID-19 and ideal response; the linkage between anti-corruption and socio-economic impact analysis of COVID-19; and a case from the RoK with both public and private sector examples.

Mr. Balázs Horvath, RBAP Senior Economic and Strategic Advisor on Belt and Road Initiative of UNDP China, set a ground for discussion by presenting an overview of unprecedented impact of COVID-19 and its implication on the greater role of governance to build back better by supporting below aspects:

1)        resilient supply and demand chains;

2)        affordable and accessible digital connectivity; and

3)        reliable and timely COVID-19 related data, which is, in particular, relevant to policy approaches tailored to specific country contexts.

Mr. Balázs Horvath also introduced UNDP’s effort to meet the increasing global demand for data collection by launching COVID Socio-economic Recovery Data Platform.

Mr. Anga Timilsina, UNDP Global Programme Advisor on Anti-Corruption proceeded and presented that COVID-19 is a governance crisis, which further constrains the recovery measures, due to its negative impact on governance resilience, systems, and mechanisms to respond to the crisis. Mr. Anga Timilsina underlined that accountable and inclusive governance upholding transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption is essential in crisis response. Ms. Aida Arutyunova, UNDP Programme Manager on Anti-Corruption provided a brief overview of UNDP’s short-term to longer-term crisis response offers and highlighted the needs for UNDP’s ongoing contribution to prioritizing four areas –SDG 16 implementation and monitoring, business integrity, social accountability technology & innovation– that are at the crux of ‘building back better.’ In line with UNDP Offer 2.0, Global Anti-Corruption Team has also strived to incorporate anti-corruption perspectives to COVID-19 response by providing helpful guidance, including two new UNDP knowledge products -UNDP’s Guidance on COVID-19 Anti-Corruption Service Offer and Guidance on Anti-Corruption in COVID-19 Socio-Economic Impact Analysis-, which was co-developed with regional governance and anti-corruption advisors. Ms. Aida Arutyunova concluded the presentation by further accentuating  that integrating transparency and accountability in both governance and other development areas is therefore pivotal since an integrated approach is “a way to build back better and create an opportunity for strong institutions for any further crisis.”

Mr. Jungoh Son, Policy Advisor and Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) secondee to UNDP, further funneled down the discussion with the example of ACRC’s anti-corruption efforts in receiving public complaints and channeling them to relevant ministries for follow-up during the COVID-19 pandemic. While Korea’s policy response was prompt with its distribution of stimulus packages and convenient with its e-government system, it was also pointed out that RoK has also shown weaknesses. The national recovery plans in RoK have not fully upheld anti-corruption, focusing mainly on economic issues.

Finally, Ms. Angela Joo-Hyun Kang, executive president of Global Competitiveness Empowerment Forum (GCEF), enriched the discussion with a private sector perspective. Ms. Kang presented three ways of empowering business integrity: capacity building for corporate compliance officers, transparent management of the global supply chain, and collective action through cross-sector alliance.

The web conference not only promoted knowledge exchange and sharing of experiences and challenges on integrated response to COVID-19, but fostered cooperation among international actors, upholding the 2030 Agenda and providing guidance on how to further pursue the next phase of UNDP’s COVID-19 crisis response.

54 participants from 39 different countries attended the webinar. Represented countries are:

Angola, Armenia, Colombia, China, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Moldova, Pakistan, Panama, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Singapore, Slovenia, Somalia, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, U.K., Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and U.S.A.

Related resources of the webinar:

·       Webinar recording: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1_L7einJ6vkbP5zm8msA3upHMkxtRSbgB?usp=sharing

·       Presentation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rvfVjW7UuHUkSiQ7Ni2EFGGC-ArpcP9v/view?usp=sharing

·       UNDP’s Global Anti-Corruption Team, “Guidance Note on Integrating Transparency, Accountability and Anti-Corruption in Socio-Economic Impact Analyses”:

https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/democratic-governance/anti-corruption/integrating-transparency--accountability-and-anti-corruption-in-.html

·       UNDP’s Global Anti-Corruption Team, “Guidance Note on Transparency, Accountability and Anti-Corruption Service Offer for COVID-19 Response and Recovery”: https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/librarypage/democratic-governance/anti-corruption/transparency--accountability-and-anti-corruption-service-offer-f.html

Q&A

1.       How do we maximize the effects of macroeconomic policies to support vulnerable people in a sustainable way?

·       We have to first acknowledge that at least in Asia-Pacific, more than half of people who actually do require support are able to access zero social protection programs. They are completely left behind. One of the things we need to do is to be smart in providing the ability to spend to those people who actually need support. There are many ways to do this. First method is some sort of cash transfer, whether it is transitory or universal basic income. We have the technology for this in very many countries. Another way is through cooperation. Take a look at the world map. The map consists of many countries. Because this is a global crisis, countries need to coordinate across regions not only because coordination is more efficient but also because there are global public goods that can only be provided and global goals that can only be achieved through international coordination.

2.       How to create government buy-in as we are trying to integrate "anti-corruption" component to the integrated COVID response?

·       In order to provide and integrate socio-economic response to the request of government, it is necessary to bring together all teams: governance, inclusive growth, climate change team, and more. Achieving government buy-in is convincing the government that integrated response is a way to “build back better.” In other words, Strong institutions, resilient institutions, transparency and accountability are not counter-productive to COVID-19 response, but rather make our society stronger. Second issue concerns the knowledge gap, also known as the ‘missing middle problem.’ To bridge the knowledge gap, we need to bring together both our socio-economic community and governance community to understand each other and develop a common integrated approach. UNDP Offer 2.0 and this webinar are good attempts at this integrate approach. We need to develop a common language (input-output analysis, sectoral analysis, etc.) for such an integrated socio-economic assessment and identify entry points. For example, technology and innovation are good entry points to discuss and have public-private dialogue. The bottom line is that creating government buy-in is providing more examples and knowledge and coming together to develop common collective efforts.

·       It is important for UNDP to bring together all stakeholders together, including civil society and private sector. Without their engagement, it is difficult to fully achieve integrated response. UNDP’s role as a convener and facilitator is therefore critical.

3.       With weak, ineffective AC institution in the country, what'll be the effective way to promote transparency & accountability?

·       The initial step to all solutions is needs assessment. In the mid-to-long term solutions, strengthening audit and anti-corruption institutions support overcoming crisis. Capacity building is a long-term vision. UNDP’s role as a facilitator and an organization that can support institutions’ capacity building is therefore critical. UNDP Anti-Corruption Team focuses on short term and immediate quick wins of anti-corruption institutions of some countries, such as Uzbekistan and Armenia. We look at their legal and institutional framework and try to understand their overall enabling environment. We also devise capacity building and training programmes which might have quick wins and short-term gains. Next is implementing communication and organizational structuring strategies in the long term, depending on the anti-corruption institution’s development level and needs.

4.       How experience from Korea of anti-corruption relevant to west Africa particularly, Third World countries?

·       Corruption cases have occurred in Korean and it undermined Korean citizen’s trust to public organizations, similar to what other countries’ corruption cases did. In response, the Korean government has been struggling to address the problem and dedicated itself to anti-corruption efforts. From the experience in policy planning and implementation, Korea learned that a trial-and-error process of policy making can improve anti-corruption initiatives. Korea’s case would be a useful reference point for many countries to grasp ideas on how to identify entry points for corruption prevention measures, how to overcome challenges faced in policy implementation phases, how to infuse anti-corruption objectives into national and sub-national development plans, and how to develop e-government systems. Through collaboration with UNDP Seoul Policy Centre and UNDP Regional Hubs, UNDP’s Global Anti-Corruption team expects that Korean experiences can effectively contribute to the achievement of anti-corruption goals in many countries.

5.       Is there any specific role that UNDP might play when it comes to reaching out business community and including the community into anti-corruption narratives?

·       UNDP’s integrated approach to corruption prevention is a relevant topic to the business community. Within many enterprises, human resources and other departments have been working together in a holistic manner to uphold anti-corruption and human rights agendas. Single company, business or sector associations as well as in-house counsel associations would be an entry point to collective work between UNDP and the private sector. As UNDP has a strong relationship with public anti-corruption bodies in many countries, it is suggested that UNDP augment the coordinative work and foster public-private sector collaboration at the same time. In addition, UNDP could utilize following various platforms to include the private sector: regional and global networks, such as ASEAN and APEC; international organizations including ICC and OECD-BIAC; and global initiatives like B20.

6.       Where is the socio economy recovery platform being hosted and who is the host?

·       The socioeconomic recovery platform has not yet been launched. It will be launched mid- to late September, and then the accessibility will be provided within UNDP and outside as well. The data platform unites efforts from BPPS, BERA, HDRO, and other parts of UNDP. It will aim to accommodate inputs (e.g., country-level survey data) from individual Country Offices and also be outward looking, open to governments, civil society, thinktanks, etc.

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