Global Transparency for a Sustainable Future

Krina Despota, H.R.H. Prince El Hassan Bin Talal, Cobus De Swardt, Melinda Crane, Ingrid Srinath, Richard Samans, 13th IACC, Plenary report, Sustainability

PLENARY REPORT FORM

The Road Ahead: Global Transparency for a Sustainable Future

Date and time of plenary

2 November 2008, 13:30-15:00

Moderator (Name and Institution)

Melinda Crane, Deutsche Welle

Rapporteur (Name and Institution)

Krina Despota, Transparency International

Panellists(Name, institution, title)

H.R.H. Prince El Hassan Bin Talal, Prince of the HashemiteKingdomof Jordan

Richard Samans, Managing Director, Centre for Public-private Partnerships, WEF

Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General, CIVICUS

Cobus de Swardt, Managing Director, Transparency International

Gabriel Negatu, Governance, Finance, African Development Bank

Main Issues Covered

In the midst of the current economic crisis, the panellists discussed ways to bring about greater social and economic equity, transparency and accountability in national, regional and international contexts. Ideas for reform were targeted at:

- private sector

- civil society

- multilateral institutions

- national governments

Panellists agreed that there are fundamental problems with current governance structures that are contributing to widespread poverty, inequity and a lack of human rights.

Main Outcomes

Panellists outlines a variety of ways in which the current economic, governance and social systems are failing.

-          Social equity is not advancing.

-          Financial markets have been dominated by complacency, misaligned incentives, and negligence on the part of policy-makers.

-          Business initiatives towards environmental are limited if the reserve standard of the dominant world currency, the dollar, remains linked to the oil.

-          Eight years in to the Millennium Development Goals, we now have more poor people.

-          The ability for civil society to operate freely is under threat, and being actively constrained in 87 countries.

-          Corruption continues to contribute to exploitation and injustice.

-          The pro-transparency, anti-corruption movement has yet to reach a critical mass in the way that climate change has. There is still a lack of widespread moral outrage on corruption issues.

Approaching the problem from various perspectives and regions, the panellists offered a number of specific initiatives for reform:

-          In Africa, the fight against corruption is advancing, but could be aided by i) strengthening institutions, ii) improved leadership, iii) building national capacity. All three would enhance mutual accountability, trust and cooperation between Africaand it’s partners.

-          HRH Prince El Hassan suggested that Muslims should push for a zakat with regards to oil profits, requiring that 20% of all oil profits going to the poor.

-           Governments, especially Northern governments, need to be more proactive in ratification of the UNCAC, and more enforcement of the OECD convention.

-          The World Economic Forum is working with businesses on their anti-corruption initiatives in a process that includes: i) self-evaluation, ii) benchmarking process iii) experience sharing (off the record sharing among top executives), iv) work with the big 4 on a third party development framework, to create an external verification practice. These frameworks now need to be scaled up, with government support.

Main Outputs

Panellists identified a few broad areas that, being strengthened, could increase changes for global sustainability:

Enhance public-private partnerships: Institution building cannot be thought of simply as a task for the government. The private sector should also collaborate and be supported by governments on initiatives that focus on a range of issues including the environment, labour rights, consumer protections and ethics.

Invest in civil society: Everyone knows that a knowledgeable and powerful citizenry is the most powerful tool to affecting social change, exerting pressure on businesses and politicians, and promoting ideas like transparency and security. Yet there is no real commitment to strengthen civil society on the part of government, the private sector or even civil society itself. This needs to change.

Create greater equity in governance institutions: Policy discussions should not just take place in WashingtonD.C.and New York. Discussions need to be held at the intraregional level and the decision-making structures of multilateral institutions need to be reformed in a way that gives more equitable voice to the less powerful nations. Anti-corruption conventions need to be honoured and enforced by signatory countries.

Measure the middle class, give to the poor: Profits should be funnelled back into the regions from which resources were derived. These funds should especially go to the poor.  Economic progress should be measured by the growth of the median level of the population and policies should be created that strengthen the middle class, as well as labour rights and consumer rights of all. 

Transform political will: Change will not happen unless the political will is changed. This political will can only come about by the making the right choices a political incentive for politicians. Citizens need to make clear that they are exerting their voting rights in ways that hold politicians to account for their choices.

Recommendations, Follow-up Actions

There was no consensus on the best way forward, but in a broad sense, panellists agreed:

- Civil society needs strengthening

- Institutions need reforming to increase accountability, transparency.

- The private sector needs to take more proactive and integrated role in promoting transparency.

- Decision-making at the multilateral level needs to be shifted in a way that better represents the needs of the poor.

 

Workshop Highlights (including interesting quotes)

HRH Prince El Hassan: “The lesson we are learning from the financial crisis is that we cannot borrow ourselves into wealth.”

Srinath  (paraphrased) In these institutions we have tolerated a lack of principles of equity, of justice. Entire continents, entire countries, are not at the table when issues of life and death are decided. And because they are not on the table, effectively they are on the menu.

Signed

Krina Despota
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