Something extraordinary happened on 8 December. Not extraordinary as in “magical” or “stupefying”, but “out of the ordinary” for sure. Three government representatives from Ministries of Environment, came together to discuss publically, among their peers, the risks of corruption they face for REDD+ and how they want to go about it. Three REDD+ national coordinators, who, although they interact with their national anti corruption or oversight agencies, come from forestry rather than anti-corruption backgrounds.
Of course, it’s not the first time that government officials speak frankly about issues of corruption in their countries. Presidents run campaigns on the very topic (see here and here), speeches are made on a regular basis; excellent work is taking place at the country level in REDD+ or in the education, health or water sectors. But I found that the level of openness of the representatives from DRC, Kenya and Nepal at a global event (the UN-REDD knowledge and information session on sharing national experiences on transparency, accountability and integrity, which – full disclosure- I co-organized) was quite refreshing.
Most importantly, governments collectively made a strong case for the relevance of anti-corruption work for REDD+. Not solely because their countries have international, regional or national legal obligations; nor because they know that understanding and tackling the problems of corruption will help REDD+ work effectively and equitably, but also by demonstrating how countries will use the result of the analyses and research they did during the last two years. For example, how Nepal nuanced its analysis of drivers of deforestation and forest degradation by assessing how each exact driver is catalyzed (or, in some cases, is not) by corrupt acts; how Kenya will use the results of its REDD+ Corruption Risk Assessment (or “REDD+ CRA”, an acronym you’ll see popping up more and more) to initiate a policy dialogue, develop its REDD+ safeguards and anticipate the type of grievances that could emanate from REDD+; how DRC is beefing up anti-corruption measures in the operations of its National REDD+ Fund.
Drivers, safeguards, benefit sharing: three topics that are key to developing a national REDD+ strategy, and three topics that benefit from REDD+ anti-corruption work. Congrats to DRC, Kenya and Nepal and already, and looking forward to a wider and deeper engagement in 2014!
Bio: Estelle Fach is programme specialist on anti-corruption for REDD+ at UNDP in the UN-REDD Programme in Geneva. In this capacity, and together with regional and country teams and global partners, she supports countries to assess and prevent corruption risks in REDD+.