30. May 2023

Fostering anti-corruption in Asia–Pacific through Collective Action

Vanessa Hans speaking at Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia-Pacific 11th Regional Conference
Discussing business integrity at the ACI's 11th Regional Conference: Left to right: Mark Lovatt, Business Integrity Alliance; Vanessa Hans, Basel Institute on Governance; Phrommet Bencharongkit, Thai CAC; Liu Wei, National Commission of Supervision, China

Business integrity is vital to the health of the vibrant economies of the Asia-Pacific region, as well as of the companies based or seeking to do business in the region. Fostering trust and transparency through Collective Action between stakeholders – local businesses, foreign investors, governments, civil society – is key to advancing a strong culture of business integrity, levelling the playing field and solving practical challenges that hold back fair business.

Business integrity is one of the three pillars of the Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific (ACI) of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The initiative was formed in 1999 to cooperate with governments in the fight against corruption and support national and multilateral efforts to reduce corruption in Asia and the Pacific. The ACI includes two additional pillars: Law Enforcement and Public Integrity.

We are delighted to have joined the ACI’s Advisory Group, alongside representatives from the Australian Attorney General's Office and Federal Police, Transparency International and UNODC among others. This marks an expansion of our role, building on our Private Sector team’s ongoing support to the ACI’s Working Group on Business Integrity launched in 2019.

11th Regional Conference – exploring Collective Action

The ACI’s 11th Regional Conference in Manila, Philippines, from 9–11 May was the first in-person meeting and conference since the Covid-19 pandemic, making it a valuable opportunity to map out pathways for future work. These will follow the Initiative’s mandate to support the 34 member governments in three core areas:

  1. Policy dialogue and sharing anti-corruption best practices at the regional meetings and conferences
  2. Policy analysis, including thematic reviews and stocktaking
  3. Corruption prevention and law enforcement capacity development activities

At a plenary on business integrity moderated by our Head of Private Sector Vanessa Hans, representatives from the Malaysia-based Business Integrity Alliance, Thai Collective Action Against Corruption and National Commission of Supervision of China explored how Collective Action can support prevention efforts in the region. The plenary was followed by a breakout session facilitated by Vanessa Hans in order to identify Collective Action initiatives in the region and share best practices.

Emphasising the importance of the ACI due to its scope, reach and the involvement of so many motivated and knowledgeable professionals, Vanessa Hans said:

“The ACI is a great platform for peer learning and showcasing of best practices in the anti-corruption community within Asia and the Pacific. Topics of business integrity and the benefits of anti-corruption Collective Action have been central to the discussions during the conference. We at the Basel Institute are honoured to be able to support this initiative." 

Looking back

Our support to the ACI’s Advisory Group looks back to the former role of our Managing Director Gretta Fenner as the founding Programme Manager of the ACI in 1999/2000.

At that time, the group endorsed the first ever regional collaborative framework to combat corruption in the Asia-Pacific region (the Anti-Corruption Action Plan for Asia-Pacific). The group continued to lead innovation in the fight against corruption, for example in the immediate aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, when the ACI swiftly brought together governments, the private sector and civil society to address urgent corruption risks and prevention mechanisms in the tsunami reconstruction process. 

This was a pioneering approach at a time when multistakeholder collaboration through Collective Action was still a novel concept.

Looking ahead

We look forward to continuing to support the ACI through the Advisory Group as we increase our anti-corruption work and partnerships in the region.

Save the date, among other things, for our regional Collective Action Forum in the Philippines on 25 September 2023. This will follow a similar format to our Southern Africa Collective Action Forum on 31 May 2023 and include a regional award for an outstanding anti-corruption Collective Action initiative.

Questions? Ask our Collective Action Helpdesk.