The first preparatory meeting of the 2020 OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum concluded on 18 February in Vienna. The meeting focused on countering corruption by improving the understanding of how new technologies affect government and economic development, stability and security in the region.
Almost 200 experts, representatives of the OSCE participating States, business and academic communities and civil society discussed the benefits of digitalization and increased transparency, and innovation in good governance, in preventing and combating corruption.
“The fight against corruption is one of the most pressing issues in our societies and one of the main priorities of the 2020 Albanian Chairmanship,” said Chairperson of the OSCE Permanent Council Igli Hasani. “If we successfully prevent and combat corruption, we will achieve success in addressing many other challenges that our societies face – from poverty, inequality, instability, and lack of trust in institutions to environmental degradation and climate change.”
OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger said it is essential to address the link between technology and security. “Our societies and economies are undergoing a rapid and transformative technological change that continues to gather speed. The digital revolution is having far-reaching effects on how we work, live and interact with each other. We must develop a dialogue between state institutions, the private sector and ordinary citizens – and together find ways to block corrupt practices.”
Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, Vuk Žugić, said that digitalization and technological innovation are reshaping economic systems and societies. He added that good governance, anti-corruption measures, social responsibility and education are key for promoting peace and security, strengthening co-operation and ultimately stimulating inclusive economic growth in the OSCE area.
Participants agreed that it is important to consider the security implications of digitalization in a comprehensive way and determine how international organizations, like the OSCE, can best contribute to managing this process.
Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Combating Corruption Paola Severino said that growing awareness of both the harmful nature of the threat posed by corruption and the complexity of any strategy to counter this threat, calls for an innovative approach.
“Innovation in combating corruption goes through four major steps,” said Severino. “We must focus on balancing the narrative of anti-corruption policies and promoting a mature discussion on the multifaceted nature of technology. We should also recognize the importance of the international/multilateral aspect to continue coming together in normative and regulatory frameworks. We also need to encourage participatory approaches by factoring in and supporting the role that civil society, business communities and media can play.”
Participants agreed on the importance of factoring in the digital dimension in the developing anti-corruption strategies, as well those commending the role of the OSCE as a platform for enhancing international co-operation.
The Second Preparatory Meeting will take place on 27 and 28 May in Tirana and the Concluding Meeting on 10-11 September in Prague.