The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has a major obstacle it would like to get out of its way: corruption. It explains that corruption takes five percent of global GDP, or US$2.6 trillion, away from development. Corruption deprives people from access to basic services such as health, education, and water and sanitation.
Anti-corruption efforts are needed, and urgently. That’s because in Thailand, for instance, where the UNDP’s dialogue on corruption in the Asia-Pacific region was held last week, it was found that 63.4 percent of Thai people view corruption as acceptable as long as they also benefit from it. Furthermore, a majority of young people under 20 hold the same attitude.
Fearing that these views will further widen inequality, the UNDP launched the “Social Innovation Initiative on Anti-Corruption for Development” last week.
The Social Innovation Initiative will fund six innovations that go beyond traditional approaches to tackle corruption in the Asia-Pacific region. Each innovation will be given US$50,000 to launch their respective pilots or expand existing work. They were chosen from 14 proposals from a range of applicants including UNDP country offices and partner NGOs. The innovations were judged on their applicability and ability to sustain themselves beyond seed funding.
The selected innovations are as follows:
1. Citizens’ Information and Accountability Forum (Pakistan)
UNDP Pakistan will lead the launch of the Citizens’ Information and Accountability Forum in the province of Punjab, which is where one of two local governments has recently passed Right to Information laws.
This Forum, represented by youth, women rights organizations, minority groups, bar associations, traders association, farmers association, teachers association, NGOs, community based organizations, university faculty, and press clubs, will review district development plans and budgets to instill government accountability and transparency by submitting RTI requests to access relevant public documents.
2. Citizen Empowerment Hubs (Philippines)
Natural disasters, which are now more frequent and severe, expose the Philippines to corruption as a result of the challenges in administering aid. Citizen Empowerment Hubs, implemented by the Government Watch program of the Ateneo School of Government and its partnering organizations, build the capacity of grassroots women to map and monitor service delivery with a focus on disaster response. The initiative also gets more women involved in local decision making.
3. Anti-corruption Cafés in Universities (Thailand)
Refuse To Be Corrupt is a social enterprise founded by the UNDP-sponsored Thai Youth Anti-Corruption Network. As a joint project with True Coffee, a coffee shop chain in Thailand, Refuse To Be Corrupt cafés were created in Khon Kaen University and Ubon Ratchathani University to give students a place to discuss issues, organize events, and map out plans related to tackling corruption in their universities and communities. The Social Innovation Initiative will help expand the cafés.
4. Youth Participation Innovation Laboratory (China)
The Innovation Laboratory has a goal of engaging youth in preventing corruption in China’s higher education sector. It will begin by launching a national student design competition to select a number of innovative anti-corruption plans to pilot.
5. Corruption Tracking Tool for the Extractives Industry (Indonesia)
The Corruption Tracking Tool, developed by UNDP Indonesia, is a user-friendly handbook to help local governments track corruption in Indonesia’s extractive industries, such as in the processing of mining permits and the implementation of mining concessions. The tool identifies what is needed to reduce corruption strategically.
6. Strengthening Anti-Corruption Work (Vietnam)
UNDP Vietnam will aim to strengthen anti-corruption work among civil society organizations. It will train supervisory boards on anti-corruption laws and provide them with tools to do inspection work. Media practitioners will also get training from investigative journalists on anti-corruption laws and investigation skills.
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