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Securing the Future of Asia and the Pacific: Promoting Good Governance in Education and Environmental Management - Takehiko Nakao

Speech | 7 December 2018

Remarks by ADB President Takehiko Nakao at International Anticorruption Day 2018 on 7 December 2018 at ADB Headquarters in Manila, Philippines

Introduction

Distinguished guests, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen: Good afternoon and welcome to this year’s celebration of International Anticorruption Day. This is the eighth time we have marked this day with an event at our headquarters. 

I wish to extend a warm welcome to our keynote speakers Ms. Clarissa Delgado and Mr. Ritwick Dutta. 

Fight against corruption in education and environmental management 

Three years ago, the international community committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which sets historic targets to secure the future of our planet and its people. Among 17 goals, SDG16 sets the direction for the global fight against corruption and the development of effective, accountable, and transparent institutions. ADB has aligned itself with the SDGs under our new long-term Strategy 2030. Supporting governance and institutional capacity in our developing member countries is one of seven core operational priorities in the Strategy.

Today’s keynote speakers will discuss the importance of good governance in education and environmental management. These are two areas that are critical to securing the future of Asia and the Pacific, and upon which ADB places high importance. We are working towards meeting the corporate target of 6–10% of total lending going to the education sector. We will also continue to increase the share of total projects supporting environmentally sustainable growth beyond the 58% achieved in 2015–2017.
 
Corruption in education takes many forms, such as nepotism in the recruitment of teachers and the procurement of goods and services for schools. It is a major barrier to the achievement of SDG4—obtaining a quality education. It undermines trust in public institutions more generally and it discourages young people who are just starting out in life, hence undermining the future of us all. 

Corruption also undermines environmental management, which is an essential part of keeping our future bright. In Asia and the Pacific, we observe various environmental crimes including wildlife trafficking, illegal deforestation, fishing and mining, the illegal dumping of chemicals and wastes, and pollution by breaching regulations. According to a 2018 report by the United Nations Environment Programme, environmental crimes damage sustainable development and contribute to the acceleration of climate change. The total monetary value of environmental crimes worldwide is estimated to be between $91–259 billion annually.   

ADB’s efforts to improve governance in education and environmental management

Today, I would like to highlight four ways in which ADB is fighting corruption and improving governance in the areas of education and environmental management. 

First, ADB is providing strong oversight in our own lending and grant operations. We take a zero-tolerance approach to corruption and provide integrity oversight through our investigations and proactive integrity reviews. Over the last 10 years, ADB’s Office of Anticorruption and Integrity has investigated 952 alleged integrity violations. 

Out of this, 82 involved education and environment-related projects. In these two areas, we uncovered wrongdoing in 37 cases and imposed corresponding remedial actions, including 18 debarments. 

We have also strengthened obligations on our staff, consultants, contractors, and service providers to comply with the highest standards of ethics and integrity. 

Second, ADB is committed to enhancing transparency and stakeholder participation regarding our institution and in our projects. Transparency is an essential element of good governance. 

We are enhancing the transparency of ADB itself. This year’s Aid Transparency Index ranked ADB first among 45 of the world’s leading development organizations. ADB is introducing a new Access to Information Policy (AIP) from 1 January 2019, further underlying the principle of presumption in favor of disclosure. The new AIP will increase public access to ADB’s historical information. 

In the education sector, a simple but effective way to promote transparency and accountability in ADB’s projects is to increase citizen engagement and the involvement of parents and school communities. We are using IT to enhance transparency in education-related procurement and performance. For a project in Nepal, ADB increased transparency and reduced avenues for corruption through the use of e-Procurement systems and third-party verification.

Third, ADB is using lending operations to help strengthen institutions for good governance.

In the area of education, one example is a results-based lending (RBL) project for technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in the People’s Republic of China. One of the eight conditions for disbursement was to establish stronger management information and quality control systems at the secondary and tertiary TVET institutions. The RBL is a lending modality which disburses money to the government based on achieving specific results targets in certain areas, and ADB has been extensively using RBL in the education sector to strengthen governance.

In the area of the environment, lending for the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Air Improvement Program supported the implementation of rigid environmental regulations, monitoring, and penalties, leading to a reduction of unhealthy biomass burning and a ban on seasonal biomass stalk burning in Hebei Province. ADB is applying a similar approach in the Ulaanbaatar Air Improvement Program for Mongolia, a policy-based loan tailored to address both outdoor and indoor air quality in Ulaanbaatar.  

Fourth, ADB is actively providing technical assistance and hosting capacity building seminars and workshops to strengthen institutional capacity in our developing member countries. By sharing our knowledge, since 2008, OAI has conducted 292 training programs on anticorruption and integrity for government agencies and financial institutions.

In addition, since 2007, we have conducted governance risk assessments to identify risks related to corruption, procurement, and public financial management within a country’s overall governance context, and in the specific sectors in which ADB is operating in that country. These risk assessments highlight where governance and institutional improvements are needed and where ADB can work with governments.

Regarding education, one example of ADB’s technical assistance to strengthen institutional capacity is the development of a code of ethics and related procedures in Mongolia for kindergarten, primary, and secondary school staff. This aims to prevent bribery and gift acceptance. 

Regarding the environment, ADB recently is addressing the illegal wildlife trade under its Protecting and Investing in Natural Capital in Asia and the Pacific regional technical assistance project. In the Philippines, for example, we will combat environmental organized crime by supporting legal and institutional reforms, capacity building in law enforcement, and measures to reduce demand for wildlife through large-scale awareness campaigns. 

The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) has also played an important role in strengthening governance for environmental management. Since 2010, through a Law and Policy Reform Program, OGC has provided customized in-country training programs on environmental and climate-related litigation for members of the judiciary, law professors, and lawyers. Enhanced judicial understanding has led to improved enforcement of environmental laws and the protection of peoples’ rights to a clean and healthy environment. 

Concluding remarks

Ladies and gentlemen: ADB must continue to fight corruption and improve governance to safeguard development gains in education and environmental management.

To secure the future of Asia and the Pacific, a reliable and fair education system is essential, and the environment must be kept healthy. The promotion of good governance in education and environmental management is critical. 

In concluding, all of us at ADB must continue to fight all types of corruption, individually and collectively, as One ADB.