2020 is an important year as we enter the Decade of Action for delivering on the 2030 Agenda. Adopted in September 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. 

Unanimously adopted by all the 193 member States of the United Nations, it was an historic feat in international diplomacy and multilateralism. 

For Kenyans, the goals embody a collective vision of the life where every citizen can live up to their fullest potential and enjoy a life of dignity, free from poverty and oppression. 

Yet, as we pause and take stock of the progress we have made, we are reminded that the successful fight against corruption will be the silver bullet in helping Kenya inch closer to the achievement of SDGs. 

Over the past decade, corruption in Kenya has remained rampant as evidenced by increased cases of bribery, extortion, money laundering, fraud and collusion both in the public and private sector. The impact of this cannot be understated. 

According to the UN, corruption is closely linked to all the 17 SDGs and has the power to impede progress if it remains unchecked. Its negative impact on essential services such as access to food, healthcare and education can further be exacerbated in countries where these services are already limited. 

Kenya can change this narrative in 2020 and the private sector remains an important actor in the successful fight against corruption. Further, the new decade is an opportunity to take bold action on a scale we’ve never seen before. 

This calls for CEOs and other business leaders to set radical goals and establish a “new normal” for doing business with integrity. 

Every individual effort from large and small business alike will count in helping realise a graft free business environment and society. This will call for uncommon courage from business leaders who will choose to lead by example in their own sectors while challenging government to deal decisively with graft. Collective action will also be a key strategy in helping root out systemic corruption. 

While it might be difficult to obtain collaboration from businesses around issues of graft, addressing the problem is in the interest of all those who are concerned with sustainability of their businesses and Kenya’s economy. 

This makes achieving the anti-corruption targets in SDG 16 more urgent than ever – not only because they are important for promoting transparency, accountability and integrity for their own sake, but also because they can serve as a baseline to achieve the successful implementation of the remaining SDGs. 

For the private sector, the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact take into account the fundamental responsibilities of business in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Drawn from landmark UN declarations and Conventions, they act as a normative authority for responsible business. 

The 10th Principle calls on ‘businesses to work against corruption in all forms, including extortion and bribery’. 

By incorporating the Tenth Principle of the UN Global Compact into business strategies, policies and procedures, and establishing a culture of integrity, companies are not only upholding their fundamental responsibilities to people and the planet but also setting the stage for their own long-term success. 

Through their actions, attitudes, and anti-corruption efforts, the business community can support the government’s efforts in building an anti-corruption culture, and developing and strengthening the public anticorruption infrastructure. 

Monitoring corruption and governance trends ensures that there is more concrete knowledge to bring to the table. 

A great starting point is understanding the dual role anticorruption plays in the 2030 Agenda, both as a focus area in itself under SDG 16 and as a prerequisite to achieving all other SDGs. 

Eradicating bribery and corruption must remain high on the agenda of the national government and private sector, by articulating the need for aligning anti-graft initiatives to business plans and national development plans and programmes. — The writer is Executive Director, Global Compact Network Kenya 

— judy. njino@globalcompactkenya.org.

Eradicating a v bribery and corruption ' must remain high on the agenda.