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Corruption and the city

How aid donors can support integrity building in urban spaces

More than half of the world's population live in urban areas. The policies and practices of municipal governments are therefore an integral determinant of the extent to which the Sustainable Development Goals are achieved. Yet poor governance and rampant corruption undermine such efforts. Cities across the world are introducing urban governance initiatives intended to reduce corruption. To maximise the effect of these programmes, we need additional research. The limited evidence that exists suggests that access-to-information, transparency, and citizen engagement can help curb urban corruption.

6 February 2018
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Main points

  • Corruption is undermining cities' efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Its effects range from increasing socio-economic inequality to harming the environment.
  • City-focused corruption research is needed to inform emerging policy and practice.
  • Making information on municipal public finances available to citizens can help reduce knowledge gaps.
  • Improving the transparency of municipal public service provision could prevent forms of corruption linked to city services.
  • Strengthening citizen engagement in city management may be part of the solution.
  • Donors should review their portfolios to consider which urban initiatives could benefit from an enhanced anti-corruption effectiveness lens.

Cite this publication

Williams, A.; Dupuy, K.; (2018) Corruption and the city. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Brief 2018:2)

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About the authors

Aled Williams responsible for U4's thematic work on corruption in natural resources and energy.

Kendra Dupuy

Dr. Kendra Dupuy is a political economist working on research about natural resource and energy management, the education sector, and civil society. Formerly a Senior Adviser at U4, she is currently an affiliated researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


aid, anti-corruption measures, cities, public financial management, public sector