Last week I attended the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, where 2,500 leaders of government, industry, and civil society gather to discuss global challenges.
While dealing with inequality and social inclusion seems to be the problem on many lips this week, I noticed a growing recognition that if we don’t tackle corruption, other issues will stay on the books, and get worse.
Transparency International raises awareness of the need to deal with corruption when preparing any policy, from population growth to food security issues to climate change and transport. At a meeting on infrastructure I challenged the leaders of industry and ministers present that corruption is a big risk unless there is full transparency along the total process of bidding and construction. I added that since independent monitors can identify corruption early on when it occurs, and all large projects should have them from preparation to completion of the project. This is the approach of TI’s Integrity Pacts, which have been very successful in prevent corruption.
In an exhilarating discussion, ably moderated by Professor Mark Pieth, people asked what could be done about corruption. We talked about the meaning of corruption and the importance of education is fighting it; not just in schools but also in businesses and governments.
I shared this panel with a Chinese journalist renowned for standing up to corruption in her country, Ms. Hu Shuli, who said that the media can play a great role in fighting corruption. Another panellist, Peter Bakker, Head of TNT explained how his company had adopted and implemented a zero tolerance approach to corruption.
The diversity of people and backgrounds at WEF makes it unique. Spontaneous meetings about solving global problems take place that would be completely unthinkable in any other setting. You can get industry leaders, politicians and academics around one table.
It is important for NGOs like Transparency International to take part in this multiplicity of meetings on global problems, so that they can suggest constructive solutions, as well as making sure that the voices of the disadvantaged are heard.