Last week Matthew asked if he were the only one who wasn’t excited about Sustainable Development Goal 16. At first glance it is hard to understand why he would ask such a question. One of 17 goals approved September 25 by the United Nations General Assembly to end poverty by 2030, SDG 16 establishes an ambitious agenda for improving the way the nations of the world govern their citizens by, among other measures, requiring concerted global action to “substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms.” How could anyone, particularly one who works on corruption issues, not be ecstatic that the 193 member-states of the United Nations unanimously endorsed this objective? And indeed numerous anticorruption advocates have already celebrated its approval (click here for Transparency International’s enthusiastic endorsement).
Although the opening of Matthew’s post was low-key (am I the only one not excited?), readers quickly learned that he was in fact severely critical of SDG 16’s corruption and bribery target because of the way progress towards realizing it is to be measured: by changes in a nation’s score on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Matthew nicely summarized why this is insane on technical grounds. Here I explain why using the CPI to measure progress is not only insane but represents a major setback in the fight against corruption. Continue reading