Participants and panelists all agreed that there has been a long-standing focus on enforcing compliance measures as a way of ending corruption. However, compliance on its own will not be sufficient for reaching the ultimate goal of creating inclusive and just urban spaces. Thus, new strategies need to focus on a careful balance between compliance measures and proactive integrity promotion. It was proffered that an integrity-driven approach can succeed if measures engage urban practitioner on an individual level as well as through ethics programs in the workplace. There was consensus that we need to avoid a tick-box culture driven by the desire to comply. Instead, interventions should motivate professionals to act as agents of positive urban change.
A key point that emerged from the networking event was the role of collusion between the private and public sector. This was noted to be a major issue in contexts where there is a critical shortage of qualified planners, where promotion, transfers and work incentive criteria are unclear and political interference goes largely unchecked. Contexts that lack clear boundaries between private and public planning or procurement processes abound with ethical dilemmas. For example, the development of appropriate and transparent gifting policies that still respond to the cultural context can have a profound impact.
The panel concluded by emphasising the under-utilised convening power of academia in producing a community of practice through ongoing ethics training in both, graduate planning education at university level and continuing professional development programmes administered in close collaboration with national planning bodies.
With ongoing urban growth and expansion, addressing the urban corruption nexus is quickly emerging as a central policy challenge of our time. In turn, developing cities of integrity will require a focus on building trust and new alliances across the diverse spectrum of public and private urban development stakeholders.
This report was written by ACC project research assistant Dorothy Ndhlovu.