5 October 2021 - The OECD and the U.S. Department of State today announced the launch of a major new project, Connecting the Dots: Building Trusted Systems to Address Corruption in Infrastructure. The project will help to strengthen protections against corruption risks in infrastructure by building the capacity of stakeholders in developing and emerging economies to implement anti-corruption systems.
The focus on infrastructure investment is particularly timely given the central role it will have to play in helping the global economy to “build back better” following the COVID-19 crisis. Ensuring that scarce public and private resources are well spent will be crucial if investments are to achieve their desired impact of creating jobs, providing access to essential services, enhancing well-being, and driving the transition to net-zero emissions. Corruption is widely recognised as a global challenge that threatens to undermine these objectives. In a recent OECD survey, leading infrastructure investors, developers and operators cited corruption as a top factor inhibiting infrastructure development in low- and middle-income countries.
Further still, the risks from corruption potentially stifle innovation, erode trust in institutions and can even undermine democracy and the rule of law. Given the amounts of money involved, the importance of fighting corruption in the infrastructure sector cannot be overstated. The 2014 OECD Foreign Bribery Report found that over 60% of foreign bribery cases occur in infrastructure-related sectors and early evidence indicates that the risks may have increased since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We’re creating a toolkit of practical ways to prevent, to detect, to respond to corruption, including through trainings and help with capacity building for organizations that are particularly vulnerable to it, like for example, government offices responsible for public procurement and companies bidding for contracts. We’re grateful to the OECD for being our partners in this endeavor." - The Honorable Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State
To combat this threat, project developers, investors, governments and other stakeholders require tools and enhanced public private co-operation to prevent, detect and report corruption in infrastructure development.This new project adopts a systemic approach by ensuring that all stakeholders across the infrastructure life cycle can meet international standards on anti-corruption, such as the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions through deploying an Infrastructure Anti-corruption Toolbox (I ACT) of innovative solutions. The toolbox will include a guidebook for preventing, detecting and reporting corruption across the infrastructure lifecycle, a set of interactive trainings tailored to stakeholders in both OECD and non-OECD countries, and a programme to build organisational anti-corruption systems through active public-private co-operation.
“Investing efficiently and effectively in infrastructure requires collaboration across multiple sectors, including financial services. Similarly, rooting out corruption in infrastructure calls for greater collaboration. We welcome this initiative by the OECD to build trust and drive business integrity in this vital arena.” Jane Fraser, Citi CEO
The project will support the implementation of the Blue Dot Network a major initiative to scale-up private investment into infrastructure by operationalising international standards for quality infrastructure investment through a voluntary, private-sector focused and government-supported certification scheme for infrastructure projects.*
“Efforts to tackle corruption will only succeed if they address all stages of the infrastructure life cycle. That’s why the OECD’s anti-corruption toolkit is so important. It will provide stakeholders with the practical support required to do this. It should be widely disseminated and put in to the hands of all those who are working to combat corruption.” Petter Matthews, Executive Director, CoST – Infrastructure Transparency Initiative
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann launched the project on 5 October, 2021 at an OECD Ministerial Meeting side event: The Blue Dot Network: Catalysing Quality Infrastructure Investment to Build-Back-Better.Both the project and the Blue Dot Network promote open and transparent infrastructure investment that is consistent with the shared values of democracy and the rule of law as conveyed by the G7 Build Back Better World initiative.
Isabel Cane, Head, Trust in Business initiative, Isabel.Cane@oecd.org
Juan Garin, Policy Advisor, Sustainable Finance and Infrastructure, Juan.Garin@oecd.org
Founded by the governments of the Australia, Japan and the United States, this initiative convenes governments, private sector and civil society to promote quality infrastructure investment that is open and inclusive, transparent, economically viable, financially, environmentally and socially sustainable, and aligned with international standards, laws, and regulations. This global certification regime will promote the widespread application of international standards such as the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment, the Equator Principles and numerous OECD standards, amongst others. At the request of the founding countries, the OECD Trust in Business Initiative is coordinating technical support to ensure an evidenced-based approach to the development and consultative market-driven design of this global certification framework.