(Johannesburg) – The Anti-Corruption Policy Dialogue and Collective Action Workshop, an interactive high-level event featuring training sessions, opportunities for dialogue and a joint regional meeting of Local Networks, concluded today in Johannesburg, South Africa. Nearly 100 business executives, government officials and civil society leaders from South Africa discussed ways that business-led collective action approaches – such as integrity pacts – can contribute to the country’s fight against corruption.
“It is important for business leaders to talk about corruption and engage in dialogue. Yet, conversations are not sufficient to tackle this issue without action,” said Futhi Mtoba, Member of the Global Compact Board and President of Business Unity in South Africa. “It is urgent for businesses in South Africa to act together to curb corruption in the private sector. I am excited about the readiness of the private sector to implement an integrity pact.”
A high-level forum and one-day workshop featured speakers on the challenges of tackling corruption in the absence of committed leadership or established ethical frameworks. Speakers emphasized the need for robust anti-corruption practices and good corporate governance in order to enhance the sustainability agenda. The business community also urged governments to introduce policy measures that reward ethical business conduct.
“The mindset of the past that disregarded long-term ethical values must be changed to tackle the emerging problems of the twenty-first century,” said Professor Mervin King SC, Chairman of the King Committee in Corporate Governance in South Africa. “Good corporate governance based upon responsibility, accountability, fairness and transparency is critical to advancing sustainability,” he added.
“The workshop was a critical step in laying the groundwork for a robust and effective integrity pact – a tool developed by Transparency International to tackle corruption in public procurement processes,” said Olajobi Makinwa, Head, Transparency and Anti-Corruption, UN Global Compact. “As South Africa increases its focus on climate adaptation and the green economy, it is our hope that collective action can enhance the transparency of projects designed to advance sustainable development in the country.”
Workshop participants met with Global Compact Local Network representatives from Africa and the Middle East, including Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Iraq, Namibia, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa during their Second Joint Network Regional Meeting on 27 September. Local Network representatives agreed to mobilize efforts in preparation for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to be held in June 2012.
Local Networks will focus on collective action and policy dialogue to strengthen their role as national sustainability hubs in the lead-up to Rio+20. The joint event provided network representatives with the opportunity to better understand the issue of anti-corruption and how peer networks use collective action to advance the tenth principle of the Global Compact.
During the joint event, Local Networks also expressed strong support for the African Inclusive Market Facility’s (AFIM) “Private Sector and Inclusive Market Development in Africa” conference, a week-long event focused on food security in Africa organized by the UN Development Programme and supported by the UN Global Compact.
On 28 September, the first-ever joint meeting between South African businesses and Local Network representatives from across the Middle East and Africa region provided a one-day Global Compact Management Model training with a specific focus on anti-corruption. The training aimed to help participants better understand and integrate the Management Model in developing, implementing and monitoring robust anti-corruption measures.
Starting in October 2011, the Local Network South Africa will begin engaging local business leaders and government officials toward launching an integrity pact in 2012. Supported by the Siemens Integrity Initiative, the integrity pact will be one of five collective action projects launched by the UN Global Compact in December 2010, in which it joined forces with Local Networks to develop anti-corruption collective action projects in the emerging markets of Brazil, Egypt, Nigeria, India and South Africa.
Ms. Olajobi Makinwa
Head, Transparency and Anti-Corruption
UN Global Compact