Rebeca Grynspan: Opening Remarks at the side event during the 68th UN General Assembly, “Looking to 2015 and beyond: The role for anti-corruption and governance”

Sep 25, 2013

Opening Remarks by Rebeca Grynspan
Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme
At the side event during the 68th UN General Assembly
“Looking to 2015 and beyond: The role for anti-corruption and governance”
United Nations, New York

I am pleased to join the UNODC Executive Director to open this side event on “Looking towards 2015 and beyond: The role for anti-corruption and governance”. 

I thank Transparency International and UNODC – both for co-organizing this event and for providing the intellectual leadership and steady advocacy which has brought anti-corruption and governance issues centre stage in development debates. UNDP is pleased to join forces to co-host this timely event.  

As Member States gather later today for the President of the UN General Assembly’s Special Event on the MDGs, there is new reason for anti-corruption and governance to be foremost on their minds. I will highlight two:

First, people in all countries tell us that honest and responsive government is among their highest priorities for the future agenda. 

In UN-led consultations on the post-2015 development agenda people made it clear that they wanted a say in the decisions which affect them. They called for governments capable of delivering decent public services to all people, managing natural resources sustainably and fairly, and facilitating peace and security. People voting in the global My World survey, have, in every region, consistently ranked honest and responsive government as among their top three priorities.

People also expressed how deeply they care not about the quality of basic services they receive – including in education and health. While access has improved significantly and importantly, ensuring quality remains largely unfinished business. To do this, UNDP has learned from experience that what works best are specific anti-corruption measures integrated into basic service delivery systems – coupled with an increase in the engagement of civil society and other non-state actors in monitoring service delivery.

UN-led consultations have opened an unprecedented space for people of all walks of life – in particular those from poor and disadvantaged groups or communities - to have their voices heard and express their priorities. Well over a million people have shared their perspectives on what the agenda should look like – and they don’t want engagement to end here.  

Member States are indeed beginning to listen and respond – a number have drawn on the outcome of their own national consultations and our global results to help shape their post-2015 positions. The voices of people are also echoed in the Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Post-2015. To respond, the report stresses the need for a “fundamental shift” in thinking – so that governance is not an add-on but a central part of what development means. The Secretary-General’s report to the General Assembly reiterates the view that increasingly people and experts alike view peace and governance as “key outcomes and enablers of development". 

A second reason Member States should have anti-corruption and governance in mind when looking to the 2015 MDG target date and beyond – comes from what we have learned from more than a decade of experience implementing the MDGs. Through our work – in HQ and on the ground - supporting well over a hundred governments to achieve the MDGs, UNDP has seen how disparities in progress can be, at least partly, explained by differences in the quality of governance and the inclusiveness of political and economic institutions. 

Through the MDG Acceleration Framework, UNDP is helping more than fifty countries identify and unlock governance and institutional bottlenecks to blocking MDG progress. Actions to address steep maternal health challenges for example – include steps to pay health-care workers on time, engage communities in solutions, and empower women to know and claim their rights. 

The MDGs have also made it clear that meeting ODA commitments matters. Where there is political will and local ownership, development assistance works to improve the lives of people. We have also learned that preventing the leakages of resources is equally important to achieve the sums needed to fund transformative and sustainable development.

Revenues earned from natural resource windfalls or high growth rates must be invested back into better services and improvements in infrastructure which reach all people. It is after all healthy and educated people which drive their economies and create vibrant livable societies.   

According to data from the World Bank, each year US$1 trillion is paid in bribes and it is estimated that corruption can cost a country up to 17 percent of its GDP.  Imagine the impact of reversing this! By disproportionately hurting poor and marginalized people, corruption also reinforces growing inequalities and aggravates social tensions. A recent UNDP study found that 76% of women surveyed think corruption has prevented them from accessing public goods and services.  

Corruption goes well beyond individual countries. The cost of illicit transfers, unregulated multinational companies, and illegal logging on countries’ prospects are very real and very large. Momentum is shifting in the right direction – the post-2015 development agenda can build on this – to help end the use of tax havens with impunity, expand further people’s access to understandable and useable information on government budgets, expenditures and public procurement. The uptake in Freedom of Information Acts in many countries and global transparency initiatives such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is helping to improve transparency and accountability. UNDP in this respect - is proud to this year take up leadership of the consortium to serve as the secretariat of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). This is a demonstration of our own commitment to transparency and our willingness to engage in with more than 160 organizations to help spearhead transparency across the development community. 

Accountability and transparency - must be underpinned by a human rights-based approach which enables people redress.  It must also compel all actors to act - state to non-state, international organizations and multinational corporations. While targets should be adapted locally for maximum relevance and ownership - a global mechanism is needed to monitor progress and help hold member states accountable.

I take this opportunity to officially announce the launch of a dedicated inter-agency web platform (, developed by UNDP together with UNODC, UNESCO and OHCHR and I hope that this web-portal will significantly help to take forward the discourse on the post-2015 agenda. I look forward to our discussion here today and hope they can continue through this and other fora. 


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