World leaders gathered in London this week to commit to increased action against corruption. We inevitably viewed the proceedings through the lens of our own priorities and there was much that we welcome. The Communiqué acknowledged for example that construction is “particularly vulnerable to corruption” and as part of the solution, participating countries committed themselves to “making public contracting processes more transparent.”
Summits have an important role in focusing attention on what matters and in this respect, a greater focus on public investment in infrastructure could be very significant. This is because infrastructure is central to the most pressing global challenges that we face. Put simply, unless more is done to reduce corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency in this vital sector, our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, deal with climate change and rebuild the global economy will be seriously undermined.
The governments who gathered in London this week should not be left to bask in the warm glow of the Summit for very long. Their responsibility is to rapidly translate those commitments into actions that will improve the lives of their citizens. If you are a taxpayer, and if you use public services, you have an interest in making sure that your government gets better value for money and that it improves the quality of public services available to you.
CoST is already working with 15 governments to help achieve these outcomes. We hope that the Summit will encourage more governments to work with us, or to learn from our experience when developing their own reforms. Our partners know that transparency and accountability can be transformative. Ultimately, the usefulness or otherwise of the Summit will not be determined by speeches or communiques, but by the extent to which it helps to transform the lives of people through actions aimed at tackling corruption.