São Paulo (Brazil), 4 October 2022 – Can technology be an entry-point for young people in global anti-corruption efforts to strengthen business integrity? According to participants at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) latest Coding4integrity Youth Anti-Corruption Hackathon, the response is a resounding yes.
As young people move into their future workplaces in the private sector and become the next generation of decisionmakers, they have in them the incentive and drive to make the world a better place. This commitment, when paired with their passion and knowledge of technology, produces original approaches and innovative solutions to some of today’s most pressing and complex challenges, including corruption.
In this framework, UNODC leverages young people’s skills and passion for digital innovation and social entrepreneurship to empower them to tangibly contribute to valuable discussions and ultimately work towards global efforts to strengthen business integrity.
For this purpose, the second edition of UNODC’s Coding4Integrity hackathon recently took place in São Paulo, bringing together 43 youth from Brazil and Mexico.
“UNODC's Coding4Integrity Youth Anti-Corruption Hackathon represents a turning point for our local implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda,” noted Ramires Lopes, Coordinator of Youth Policies at the Secretariat of Human Rights and Citizenship, City of São Paulo, at the start of the gathering.
Conducted as part of UNODC’s Global Action for Business Integrity and Global Integrity Education project, both funded by the Siemens Integrity Initiative, the hackathon illustrated the strong links between the private sector and the education system within this area.
By bringing together software developers and university students from the two countries, the hackathon is an example of the different forms that international cooperation can take in the development of efficient and innovative ways to implement the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). Indeed, by using digital innovation and youth empowerment to build bridges between academia and private sector, it offers a way to promote and safeguard integrity and encouraging action against corruption.
Furthermore, with a focus on gender-sensitive reporting on corruption, transparency processes within small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs), as well as public procurement in the healthcare sector, the hackathon builds on the successes of the first edition of the Coding4Integrity brand, which took place in 2021. During this session, contributions from the participating youth from Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa elicited strong interest and commitments from a variety of stakeholders, who now see the great value of technology as an enabler of youth participation and meaningful engagement in anti-corruption work.
Prior to the start of the hackathon, each of the ten teams were provided with two weeks of online training and support from multiple experts and a rich network of mentors with expertise in technology development and business integrity. Following the two-day coding event itself, each team’s prototype was judged against a set of precise criteria, aimed to evaluate projects’ creativity, originality, quality, functionality, applicability, technology and finally market scalability.
The winning team, consisting of four undergraduate students in computer engineering from Universidade Estadual de Campinas and one Mexican law student from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo Léon, was ultimately chosen as the lead submission, having chosen the theme “Gender-responsive whistleblowing – an essential tool to detect and prevent corruption”. Their technology-based solution proposes the development of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool to identify the existence of content within corporate communication channels that contains elements that might be evidence of sextortion, as well as sexist, racist or other discriminatory type of content that negatively impact business integrity. In so doing, the solution tackles the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace and provides users with a way to report such things when they happen. This AI tool uses pre-existing public domain data sources that is analysed through a sequential information processing ranking process.
Based on this winning entry, the Coding4Integrity 2022 winners will now have the opportunity to participate in an upcoming event of the UNODC Global Integrity Education project. They will also benefit from a three-month business development mentoring offered by one of the local hackathon partners and have the chance to participate in an upcoming UNODC international conference to showcase the role of youth and technology to strengthen business integrity.