With the first decade of the new millennium having drawn to a close, transparency now has a place on global, regional and national agendas. It has become fashionable for political candidates to campaign on anti-corruption and good governance platforms. International agreements have been ratified and international firms progressively adopt compliance and oversight programmes. Yet trust in institutions on which our future depends has eroded.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the challenges threatening the livelihood of populations across the world have increased while hope for greater social justice has faded: Efforts to reduce poverty and to deliver on promises for sustainable development, human security, curbing illicit trade and climate control have not yet resulted in positive change.
Around the world, headlines showcase the continued impunity and the rise in organised crime and illicit financial flows. When trust in governance is questioned and confidence in institutions is hollow, apathy and insecurity flourish, creating an environment ripe for corruption.
This apathy must be combated with a compelling sense of urgency to address challenges head on. Many of the right promises have been made – the task at hand is to ensure that commitments are honoured. To restore people's trust and rebuild the credibility of institutions, governments must move beyond expressions of political will to concrete action; the private sector must put a check on bribery and fulfil their obligations as corporate citizens and civil society must demand accountability. Above all, there is an urgent need for all actors to work together towards a transparent and accountable global governance agenda.