SDG 16

About this tool

This interactive platform hosts data from Transparency International's SDG 16 Spotlight Reporting Initiative.

Launched in 2017, the initiative has involved TI national chapters from around the world assessing national progress towards four SDG targets linked to anti-corruption and government transparency:

  • 16.4: significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen recovery and return of stolen assets, and combat all forms of organised crime;
  • 16.5: substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all its forms,
  • 16.6: develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels
  • 16.10: ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements

Since 2017, over 45 of TI’s national chapters have used a standardised methodology to produce spotlight reports that provide independent appraisals of their governments’ anti-corruption efforts. The research instrument, in the form of a questionnaire, can be downloaded here.


In a context of shrinking civic space, fewer and fewer governments are offering civil society organisations the opportunity to meaningfully participate in national SDG reviews meant to assess progress towards the 2030 Agenda. Even where civic space is not under threat, government-led SDG reporting typically suffers from the fact that the global indicator framework developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDG) does not cover letter or spirit of the targets under SDG 16.

Not only is it unrealistic to expect that multidimensional targets for broad concepts like corruption can be captured by two indicators on bribery, as is the case for target 16.5, but in many countries around the world the necessary data simply does not exist. This problem is particularly acute for politically sensitive targets like corruption, on which the reliability of official statistics may be open to question.

TI's approach

Recognising the lack of available data for the IAEG-SDG indicators, TI’s methodology intentionally deviates from official indicator set, drawing on a wider range of alternative data sources to scrutinise the often uncritical assessments of national progress presented in governments’ own Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs).

By going beyond the narrow understanding of corruption captured by the official global indicators, TI’s spotlight reports thus provide a more comprehensive assessment of the underlying conditions and drivers of corruption at national level.

The overall aim is to produce evidence to supplement the official government reports submitted as part of the VNR process. Looking at both the quality of the legislative and institutional framework and its actual implementation, the tool is designed to enable chapters and other national stakeholders to develop actionable recommendations across a range of relevant policy areas, from anti-money laundering to whistleblowing.

In this way, the approach seeks to embed cyclical VNR reporting into a longer process of iterative reform, by generating data that can feed into governmental SDG reporting processes in each country. Ultimately, the purpose of TI’s spotlight reports is to produce data that can be used to inform anti-corruption efforts, and thereby improve implementation of the SDG framework across all goals.


Each of the four SDG 16 targets covered has been broken down into underlying policy areas, such as asset recovery or public procurement. Each policy area is assessed against three elements.

Legislative and institutional framework

The purpose of the scored questions is to assess the legislative framework and the policies that have been formally established. These indicators allow for an easy comparison between countries’ performance on a specific question or a set of selected questions in a given year.

Most of the indicators can also be used to keep track of a country’s progress on introducing and improving key policies and legal provisions over time.

Implementation and compliance

Guided questions at the end of each policy area allow the researcher to provide an assessment of the practice and compliance with important legislative provisions. Researchers are also encouraged to include publicly available data that may provide valuable insights, for example statistics on enforcement. Furthermore, these sections also allow researchers to highlight relevant cases, reforms and changes that have occurred in the past two years.

Third party assessments

A number of established indices and ratings produced by civil society organisations and international organisations assess a country’s performance in specific policy areas relevant to this spotlight reporting exercise. These indices also provide scores and indicators that allow for an easy comparison between countries. Many of the indices can also be used to monitor a country’s performance over time.

The questionnaire makes use of data and insights collected by TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index, TI’s Global Corruption Barometer or assessments carried out by other civil society organisations, including:

  • the Basel Institute on Governance’s Basel Anti-Money Laundering Index;
  • the Tax Justice Network’s Financial Secrecy Index;
  • estimates of illicit financial outflows by Global Financial Integrity;
  • the Open Company Data Index produced by Open Corporates;
  • Global Integrity’s Money Politics and Transparency assessment;
  • the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey;
  • the Freedom in the World report by Freedom House;
  • Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index;
  • the Right to Information Rating, produced by Access Info Europe and the Centre for Law and Democracy;
  • the Open Data Barometer, produced by the World Wide Web Foundation; and
  • the Global Open Data Index, created by Open Knowledge International.

The scores and results of these surveys and indices generally provide a comprehensive assessment on a specific issue, supplementing the legislative scorecard.


Firstly, it is important to note that the scoring methodology does not aim to provide a comprehensive assessment of a country’s anti-corruption framework. Rather, scores seek to reflect if and to what extent certain best practice policies have been transposed into the national legislative framework. As such, the scorecard aims to highlight areas of the legislative framework that need to be reformed in order to create a robust anti-corruption system. While a strong legislative framework is needed to effectively address corruption risks, it is in no way sufficient without independent institutions that have adequate capacity and resources to implement it and to ensure compliance. The scorecard cannot account for such implementation gaps.

Instead, the reports will seek to address the implementation of policies in practice in their narrative sections, including by highlighting exemplary cases and scandals, and, where available, by providing relevant statistics on compliance and enforcement. Secondly, the methodology’s ability to assess a country’s performance in establishing a strong framework in a specific policy area is limited by to the broad scope of the questionnaire. Scores are not weighted, so that a policy area with a higher number of scored questions will naturally influence the overall target grade to a greater degree than a policy area with fewer scored questions.

Download the raw data