Bono Calls Corruption the "Biggest Disease of them All"

In a Ted Talk yesterday, U2 frontman Bono reflected upon the progress that's been made in the last 25 years in the fight against extreme poverty: the world population living on less than $1.25 per day has decreased from 43 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 2010.

Notably, Bono called out corruption as one of the primary forces hindering faster progress. Forbes reports:

Bono warned that the danger from here on out is inertia—and corruption. “That’s how we screw it up. […] And the biggest disease of them all,” he said, “is corruption. And the vaccine for that transparency.”

He also noted oil, gas and mining company representatives are meeting at the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) international board meeting going on right now in Oslo, Norway, where the EITI board debated requiring project-by-project disclosure of payments those companies make to governments in exchange for access to natural resources. (This type of disclosure is required under Section 1504 of the U.S.'s Dodd-Frank Act, which is currently being litigated by the big oil lobby.) “More of the wealth from under the ground should go to the people who live above it,” Bono said.

Bono's comments coincided with similar remarks made yesterday by former president Bill Clinton in Nigeria Clinton emphasized that poverty is at the root of the sectarian violence that's recently plagued the country. "You haven't done well with your oil money," he told the crowd gathered at an awards ceremony hosted by This Day newspaper in Abeokuta. The Associated Press reports:

Clinton said that oil-rich Nigeria, which earns billions of dollars from its oil industry and is a major supplier to the U.S., must not take a “divide the pie” approach toward attacking poverty. That appeared to be a subtle reference to the endemic corruption that envelopes government and private industry in the country.

“It’s a losing strategy,” the former president said. “You have to figure out a way to have a strategy that will have share prosperity.”

A report commissioned last year by Nigeria's oil minister found the government lost nearly $10 billion in revenue, much of the loss attributed to "cut-priced deals struck between government officials, the state-oil firm and multinational oil companies over the last decade."

Suzanne Ito blogs for RWI.

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