Corruption is a global phenomenon. It reduces access to quality services, erodes trust in government institutions, and undermines sustainable development, peace and security. It disproportionately affects vulnerable and marginalized groups, such as poor people and women; and worsens poverty, inequality and economic growth.

The World Economic Forum estimates that the $2 trillion wasted on corruption every year could wipe out hunger ($116 billion), eradicate malaria ($8.5 billion over seven years), bridge the global infrastructure gap ($1 trillion), and provide basic education to all children ($26 billion). Money lost to corruption is essentially development denied to those most at risk of being left behind.

It is clear that corruption impacts all five pillars of sustainable development – people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnerships. Anti-corruption efforts are thus crucial in building strong, transparent and accountable institutions to effectively meet the needs of all people.

The 2030 Agenda has provided a tremendous opportunity for anti-corruption efforts through SDG 16 ‘Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’.

According to the 2030 Agenda, SDG 16 and its anti-corruption targets on reducing illicit financial flows (16.4), corruption and bribery (16.5); developing effective, accountable and transparent institutions (16.6); ensuring responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making (16.7); and strengthening access to information (16.10) are not only important for promoting transparency, accountability and integrity, they are also important conditions for the successful achievement of all the SDGs.

Yet, based on evidence collected from UN MAPS missions, UNDP’s “Report on the pilot initiative: Monitoring to implement SDG16”, SDG Progress 2017 Report by the Institute for Economics and Peace, UNDP’s anti-corruption advisory missions, and discussions held in the recent Asia-Pacific Regional Community of Practice on Transparency, Accountability and Anti-Corruption, it is clear that progress on measuring, monitoring and mainstreaming SDG 16 is slow because of the following four significant gaps:

  1. In many countries, there is weak institutional capacity and political will at the national level to implement anti-corruption targets of SDG 16.
  2. There is a knowledge gap in terms of how to mainstream and integrate SDG 16 and anti-corruption targets in national, sectoral and local development plans and processes.
  3. There is a lack of methodologies/existing data to benchmark and monitor progress on SDG 16 (e.g., for targets 16.4, 16.5, 16.6, 16.7 and 16.10, only one indicator (16.6.1) has the established methodology and data; the rest either do not have existing data or an established methodology, or both, to track progress on the indicators).
  4. There is also a lack of effective national coordination and monitoring mechanisms to involve major stakeholders (e.g., little engagement of audit institutions, anti-corruption agencies, civil society organisations, parliamentarians and other stakeholders in the SDG-related coordination and monitoring processes).

The main motivation of this online course is to address the above-mentioned gaps. There is an increased need for guidance on: (a) how anti-corruption can be better integrated in the SDGs; and (b) how to better measure and monitor progress on anti-corruption targets.

Moreover, the implementation of the SDGs and in particular SDG 16 will not be successful if proper national mechanisms are not put in place to mainstream, measure and monitor the progress of anti-corruption in SDG implementation.

With this background, UNDP has partnered UN System Staff College (UNSSC) Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development to jointly develop the first worldwide online course on anti-corruption in the context of the 2030 Agenda.

Lasting five weeks, this course responds to the global need for knowledge on how to integrate anti-corruption in sustainable development strategies and how to measure and monitor anti-corruption in the SDGs. It also provides a platform for knowledge sharing between all relevant stakeholders: government officials, UN staff, donor and programme partners, development practitioners, academia, and civil society.

The highly interactive course includes 5 webinars with multiple speakers, more than 20 video presentations of experts, and more than 30 country-level examples to walk participants through real scenarios. This course is also a living document and will continuously be updated as we gather more information and examples.

In April this year, we piloted this course and successfully built the capacity of 100 people from 46 countries and different sectors. Here is what they had to say about the course:

The scope and ambition of the 2030 Agenda are unprecedented and require collaboration, innovation, and shared accountability across ministries, agencies, levels of government, and non-governmental stakeholders. Partnerships of public, private and non-profit sectors, as well as the active participation of all members of society, are essential to enhance anti-corruption efforts and accelerate progress on the 2030 Agenda.

With our online course, we hope to encourage and inspire all relevant actors to come together and take effective and collective actions against corruption for sustainable development, peace and security. For more information about the second edition of this course, please see:

The opinions expressed in our blog posts are solely those of the authors. They do not reflect the opinions or views of UNSSC, the United Nations or its members.