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Incidence of corruption on climate change

Incidence of corruption on climate change

By Rodrigo Arce Rojas

Corruption affects the quality of life, governance, institutions, and favors social exclusion and inequity. Corruption is a factor that directly attacks the sustainability and justice conditions of a nation or people.


Corruption is understood as the illegal use of a public office by politicians or officials for private gain. They refer to illegal acts that i) are carried out with the participation of public officials, ii) affect public power and property, iii) are committed for private gain, iv) are committed intentionally and v) are clandestine (FAO, 2001) .

Corruption affects the quality of life, governance, institutionality and favors social exclusion and inequity (Meir, 2009). ECODES (2011) points out that empirical evidence suggests that high levels of corruption are associated with low levels of development, as revealed by the comparison of the World Bank's corruption control index and the per capita gross domestic product that shows the existence of a high correlation between both indicators.

Corruption is a problem of global and national concern. Some of the main conclusions of the 2010 Barometer, prepared by Transparency International (2010) are highly worrying:

• Across the world, levels of corruption are perceived to have increased in the last three years.
• The experiences of acts of administrative bribery are generalized, and have not registered variations when compared to 2006. One in four people in the world has paid a bribe
• Government measures to combat corruption are often viewed as ineffective.
• There is a low level of trust in formal entities to combat corruption.

Corruption is the main problem facing Peru. This is how more than half of the country (51%) considers it, according to the Sixth National Survey on Corruption of Pro Ética, prepared by Ipsos Apoyo. This perception has been increasing significantly over the years, since in 2003 it reached 25%. 56% also consider that the corruption of officials and authorities is the main factor that prevents the development of the country (El Comercio, 2010)

The manifestations of the incidence of corruption on climate change are evident in the various sectors and resources:

• In the case of water, links between water, corruption and climate change are found in the following sectors: Water Resources Management, Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Systems, Agriculture and Hydropower (Transparency International, 2008).
• In the case of forests, corruption runs along the value network including the allocation of rights.
• In the case of mining and energy resources, there are notorious cases of corruption described prolifically by the press.


Certainly generalizations cannot be made, but neither can a problem that affects the very foundations of development be underestimated. It is an issue that requires the highest priority of attention if we are to advance to development with equity.

Land use change, deforestation, forest degradation, soil alteration and illegal logging weaken the role of forests in tackling climate change. Likewise, the extraction of wood outside the authorized areas and in fragile areas of high slopes, the greater use of the authorized volume, the transport and commercialization of forest products with fraudulent documentation, the weakening of the obligations assumed in the forest management plans . Without adequate silvicultural and soil conservation measures, the sustainability of forests and therefore their effectiveness in dealing with climate change are questioned.

As FAO (2001) describes, forests play a central role in adapting and mitigating climate change: “Carbon accumulates in forest ecosystems through the absorption of atmospheric CO2 and its assimilation into biomass. Carbon is stored both in living biomass (standing wood, branches, foliage, and roots) as well as in dead biomass (litter, wood debris, soil organic matter, and forest products). Any activity that affects the volume of biomass in vegetation and soil has the capacity to retain - or release - carbon from the atmosphere or into the atmosphere. " Although the total emissions of greenhouse gases in the countries of the Andean Community are relatively low, the emissions resulting from deforestation and forest degradation cannot be underestimated.

Olivera (2003), product of the American and world experience, points out that the following principles can be established in the formulation of anti-corruption policies:

• You must act on the systems
• You must act preventively
• You must act comprehensively
• You must act within a democratic framework
• The press must play a supervisory role

Likewise, according to the author mentioned above, the definition of real anti-corruption policies must involve:

• An adequate conceptualization and classification of the phenomenon of corruption.
• The analysis and treatment of the factors that make corruption possible.
• The readjustment of the legislation that deals with the phenomenon of corruption at the level of each country.
• Concerted international action (includes supranational regulations).

Some of the recommendations reached by FAO (2001) for the fight against corruption in the forestry sector are:

• Make integrity more rewarding
• Impose more severe penalties
• Reduce the discretionary powers of public officials
• Simplify the normative, administrative and regulatory framework
• Make greater use of market mechanisms
• Involve the media, NGOs and the public in the fight against forest crime

Climate change presents a new set of challenges for the forestry sector, but at the same time creates opportunities. The international efforts of the past two decades to build a common understanding, normative framework and toolkit for sustainable forest management provide a strong foundation for policymakers and forest managers to address climate change in the world. effective way (FAO, 2011). To make this possible, it is necessary to strengthen governance, institutions, the regulatory framework, the system to promote compliance with the laws both by the authorities and by forest users. This requires a determined fight against corruption, shared visions and agendas, resources and political will, citizen participation and vigilance, and an active role for the media. It is also required to deploy the mechanisms for access to public information, promotion of ethics in the public function and transparency. Policies and express actions to combat corruption are required.

Rodrigo Arce Rojas - Forestal engineer

Revised Bibliography:

  • Ecology and Development (ECODES). 2011. Prevention of corruption and bribery. Available at: http://www.ecodes.org/…. Accessed April 12.
  • El Comercio 2010. Corruption is the main brake on Peru's development. Lime. Wednesday, August 18.
  • FAO, 2011. State of the World's Forests 2001, Rome, 176 p.
  • FAO, 2001. State of the World's Forests 2001, Rome, 168 p.
  • Meier, Martha. 2009. Corruption and contamination. BATTLE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE REQUIRES TRANSPARENCY. On trade. Saturday August 29
  • Olivera, Mario. 2003. Towards real anti-corruption policies. In: Probidad Magazine. Edition 24 September. 12 p.
  • Transparency International (TI) 2008. Linking the corruption, water and environment agendas to combat climate change. Policy paper 2. Berlin, 4 p.


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