UNDP Resident Representative, Frode Mauring keynote speech at Bosch Compliance Conference 2016

Oct 25, 2016

 

Frode Mauring, UNDP Resident Representative a.i. to the United Arab Emirates -also covering the states of Oman and Qatar- Speech at Bosch Compliance Conference.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

As UNDP, we welcome the opportunity to strengthen ties of collaboration and knowledge sharing with the private sector.

For me, this strikes home.  I had my first career in the private sector – spent almost 20 years there; first in banking, then in international consulting and eventually as a CEO in the cement industries for a country in Africa.  Since 2002 I have had a second shot of a career, this time with the United Nations.  I have headed five UNDP country offices.  In three of them, including this one, I was also the senior United Nations representative in the country.  I think I speak with some experience when I say I can view things from more than one perspective.

Believe it or not, for me the transition to the UN was easy.  To be in charge of a country office is pretty much like being a private sector entrepreneur, and much less like running a bureaucracy.  You start with some seed funding from headquarters but needs to build up your partnership base to raise the funds you need to provide your value added.  Most of the management challenges are similar, recruit manage and retain talent.

To be an actor for sustainable development, you have to be humble.  UNDP and other development actor can do great things, but nothing has brought more people out of poverty than a thriving private sector.  People who have jobs can a salary and can solve many of their own problems.  People who have jobs are less likely to be poor and less likely to engage in conflict.  Private sector development in conflict areas is also conflict prevention.  The public sector gets their revenues from taxes that companies and individuals that works for them pay.  In many parts of the world, UNDP works with the private sector to capture its innovation and transformative power.  In Istanbul, UNDP has an office for private sector engagement.

Bottom line is that United Nations and UNDP are pro private sector and are actively engaging with it to promote its goal.  And that is why I welcome to have this dialogue with you.

In most of the countries I have worked in, corruption was a challenge.  In the UN we are not a direct victim, but it is a huge hindrance to development.  It is the road that could not be built, the private investment that did not happen, the school that was not built properly etc.  Because corruption has a prize.  And this is where we need you and other companies as partners.  And that is why the Global Compact has anti-corruption as its 10th principle.

The UN involvement in combating corruption and supporting integrity in business is relatively new compared to other areas in which the UN has started its work many years ago - such as human rights and eliminating poverty.  However, significant UN efforts in the area of anti-corruption and promoting integrity are growing rapidly at both international and regional levels.

 

In General, the UN’s initiative to support transparency, integrity and good governance in the MENA region is being carried out mainly through the following three channels:

1.     The implementation of United Nations Convention Against Corruption

2.     The UN Global Compact

3.     The implementation of the UNDP governance programmes in the region

 

The UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which entered into force in 2005, provides a comprehensive tool to act against all types of corrupt practices through awareness raising, prevention and sanction. It is designed to prevent and fight corruption committed by both public and private actors.

For the private sector, the measures outlined in the Convention to prevent corruption can be of great relevance. These measures include:

·        promoting cooperation between law enforcement agencies and relevant private entities

·        promoting the development of standards and procedures designed to safeguard the integrity of entities

·        promoting transparency among private entities

·        prevention of the misuse of procedures regulating private entities

·        prevention of conflicts of interest,

·        ensuring sufficient internal auditing controls to assist in preventing and detecting acts of corruption

Another key area is the definition of the corruption offences most relevant for the private sector, such as:

·        Bribery of national and foreign public officials

·        Bribery in the private sector

·        Trading in influence

·        Embezzlement of property in the private sector

·        Laundering of proceeds of crime

 

The UAE has signed and ratified the UNCAC along with most countries in the MENA region. Hopefully, companies operating here will be interested in working with local entities to ensure that the Convention

is translated into law and practice.

 

The second channel through which we counter anti-corruption work is the UN Global Compact, which is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

Specifically, the 10th principle of the Global Compact establishes that "Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery." This commitment to avoid bribery, extortion and other forms of corruption is canalized first by introducing anti-corruption policies and programs within their organizations and their business operations. Participants are also encouraged to report on the work against corruption in the annual Communication on Progress; and share experiences and best practices through the submission of examples and case stories. Additionally, participants are encouraged to join forces with industry peers, governments, UN agencies and civil society to realize a more transparent global economy.

Finally, UNDP strives to tackle corruption through Governance Programmes.

Like the rest of our work, UNDP governance programmes fall under the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015.

 

Among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the new agenda is one that deals directly with the fight against corruption, violence and organized crime: SDG 16. This objective has, among others, the obligation of States to create effective institutions that are responsible and transparent.

The forms of corruption I described earlier often exist because the legal, regulatory and social frameworks of individual countries allow them to.  In some countries, they even appear set to facilitate it.  Some of the key Ingredients for improving the legal, regulatory and societal framework of a country include having a strengthened rule of law, ensuring an independent judiciary, ensuring transparency and access to information, and providing freedom of expression and involvement from civil society. These dimensions aren’t by any means exhaustive, but they are interdependent in the fight against corruption.

My own observation is that corruption not only is bad for society at large.  It also enhances the cost of doing business.  A bad business environment is bad for the bottom line, and ultimately unsustainable.

 

Prioritizing progress with Goal 16 issues will allow private companies to thrive financially, become more inclusive, and contribute to broader economic development. It is our belief businesses should seek partnerships in implementing Goal 16.

Surely States will continue to lead all efforts against corruption. However, the private sector, needs to play its part.  Bosch and you need to play a part too.  As a large company, you can contribute to a business environment that is the one you want to thrive in.  Be a part of the future you want.  Getting corruption out of your equation is good for business and good for society.  To that endeavour count on UNDP as your partner.

 

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