Good governance, key to post-2015 growth?

Craig Fagan, senior policy coordinator at Transparency International. Photo by: personal collection

Is good governance the key to post-2015 growth? Craig Fagan, senior policy coordinator at Transparency International, certainly thinks so. As the high-level meeting in Bali, Indonesia, on the post-2015 agenda comes to a close, he spoke to Devex on how addressing corruption “makes a tangible difference” in meeting development goals.

From the recent United Nations My World Survey, “an honest and responsive government” emerged as a top development priority.

The results of the survey were delivered to the U.N. High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, who have met for the final time to draw up recommendations for the post-2015 agenda.

This is a welcome change in the fight against poverty and inequality, Fagan asserted. Together with Transparency International, he sends this message: that unless corruption is tackled, no significant development for the marginalized and underprivileged sectors can be made.

Fagan authored an article, where he listed five ways an anti-corruption development goal can be met:

  • Inform communities and individuals of their rights.

  • Help communities voice demands for better services.

  • Get public officials to fulfill promises.

  • Identify governance breakdowns and corruption risks.

  • Tackle the full-range of the problem  from public institutions to specific sectors, such as education.

Below, Fagan shares his thoughts with Devex on polishing up the post-2015 agenda through this goal:

In the recent U.N. My World Survey, “an honest and responsive government” emerged as a top development priority for respondents. Should this priority be a standalone goal, or should it be integrated into other goals in the post-2015 agenda?

The survey findings validate what we have been hearing over the years from communities: when governance does not work and corruption thrives, people and their livelihoods suffer.

For this reason, I believe that a stand-alone goal on accountable and transparent governance is essential to respond to this reality and recognize its transformative role in development. At the same time, there is a need to bring the governance principles of transparency, accountability and participation as targets and/or indicators into the other development goals.

We’ve seen from our work across 100 countries that governance  of schools, clinics, water providers — makes a difference in access to, quality of and performance of essential public services.

Transparency International has said that one of the reasons not all Millennium Development Goals will be met is because accountable and transparent governance was not included in the framework. Why do you believe this is the case?

We’ve worked with numerous public service delivery projects where it has become clear that corruption and the absence of transparency, accountability and integrity are erasing development. At the same time, overall levels of corruption in a country — whether in the public and/or private sector — are causing resources to be diverted from development and the country’s growth.

We did a study that looked at how these factors were playing out across more than 50 countries and found that better levels of transparency, accountability and integrity were correlated with better levels of literacy, maternal health and access to water. All of these findings are based on targets drawn from the current MDGs.

Do you believe the same will apply to the post-MDG agenda?

Yes, we must learn the lessons from the past and correct them now as the world looks beyond 2015. For us and many others, as My World shows, this means addressing governance and corruption.

How are you pushing for the inclusion of accountable and transparent governance as a stand-alone goal in the post-2015 agenda?

Transparency is working globally and nationally to push the need for a governance goal. We have sent letters calling on the panel members to outline the importance of these issues as a foundation for the new development agenda that is put forward.

We’re also working with other civil society organizations to coalesce our message around the need for transparency, accountability and participation as core principles for the framework. TI is also reaching out to the U.N., parliaments and companies to get this message out.

If a stand-alone goal was added to the post-2015 agenda, in what areas should reforms focus on?

When a governance goal is included in the post-2015 framework, we demand that, at the minimum, it must look at access to information, rule of law and civil society participation.

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About the author

  • Johannamorden profile

    Johanna Morden

    Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covers the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business and the law.