Corruption: Involve all stakeholders in graft, deforestation war

Monday, August 19th, 2019 00:00 |
Deforestation. Photo/Courtesy

Psamson Nzioki

Corruption and climate change are arguably the defining challenges   the world faces today. Worse, both are interlinked. One contributes to the other, and to address one, you must consider the other.

Studies have identified corruption as one of the driving forces for forest degradation. Interventions to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, therefore, must take into consideration the corruption risks and governance challenges that exist and establish anti-corruption mechanisms that will ensure transparent and accountable implementation.

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), a mechanism established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, seeks to address the approximately 12-29 per cent of greenhouse gases emanating from destruction and degradation of forests. 

Though the final pieces of the rulebook for implementation of REDD+ in developing countries were completed in 2015, Kenya’s work on REDD+ began in 2008. However, little progress has been made in realising the four stages required for its implementation. 

As part of the preparatory work, Kenya developed a Readiness Preparation Proposal and developed a policy and legal framework that would usher in the implementation of REDD+. Additionally, a corruption risk assessment for REDD+ in Kenya was conducted.

This assessment attempted to diagnose how corruption might impact on REDD+ implementation and further prescribed an array of recommendations for different stakeholders on how to respond to the risks identified. 

Conceived as one of the recommendations in the Corruption Risk Assessment for REDD+ in Kenya of 2013, the Taskforce on Anti-corruption for REDD+ was established in 2014 to enhance dialogue among stakeholders on the interface between REDD+ and corruption.

Until recently, corruption and governance have not been the pivot of forest conservation discourses. Consequently, for many stakeholders in Kenya and world over, knowledge of the nexus between corruption and REDD+ was initially a foreign concept, something the taskforce managed to reverse. Through stakeholder consultation, the taskforce was able to address the low levels of awareness on corruption and transparency among REDD+ stakeholders.

Despite not being adequately resourced, the taskforce was capable of achieving significant milestones. Notably, it managed to mainstream the anti-corruption and transparency agenda in the REDD+ processes. The Taskforce brought into it a unique blend of diversified stakeholders. This enabled collaborative and progressive dialogue in addressing corruption and governance challenges in the forestry sector. 

The taskforce, however, seems to have left out County governments yet they bear a great responsibility of forest and natural resource governance. Effective engagements call for involvement of all stakeholders.

Beyond the achievements realised by the taskforce, there are significant challenges that were encountered. Resource constraints limited the extent to which the taskforce could effectively achieve its objectives. 

Multi-stakeholder approaches have proven to be effective in addressing governance and corruption challenges. Kenya’s approach to addressing these challenges in the forest sector is one worth strengthening and replicating while being cognizant of the success factors and challenges therein. — The writer leads the Climate Governance Integrity Programme at Transparency International-Kenya

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