Ten anti-corruption take-aways from Forest Legality Week

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It’s becoming increasingly clear that corruption threatens the future of forests, forest-dependent communities and our global response to climate change. But exposing illegal activity and associated corruption isn’t enough—a necessary next step is establishing an anti-corruption agenda.

Corruption under the canopy

It’s becoming increasingly clear that corruption threatens the future of forests, forest-dependent communities and our global response to climate change. A 2016 INTERPOL study on the risks of corruption in the forest sector estimated that the annual cost of corruption in forestry is USD 29 billion. Important progress has been made by the conservation and natural resource management communities to uncover red flags that signal where corruption may facilitate illicit timber trade and undermine wider conservation efforts. But exposing illegal activity and associated corruption isn’t enough—a necessary next step is establishing an anti-corruption agenda. What should this agenda look like? Practitioners in two sessions at Forest Legality Week presented case studies, tools, responses and pathways to consider. This blog outlines ten anti-corruption take-aways.

Why care about corruption?

We know that we can’t stop illegal logging and illicit trade without addressing the corruption that lurks behind it. Different forms of corruption can occur at different stages of illegal forest supply chains—from fraud involving the mis-invoicing of exports, to bribery to get illegal shipments past customs, leakage from government-held timber stockpiles, abuse of special economic zones, and other acts. Addressing this corruption is in all of our best interests—“So by combatting illegal logging, we combat many types of transnational crime, making all of us safer and better off. Safe from criminal organizations and political instability, and better off economically,” said Jonathan Brightbill, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice.

Read the ten anti-corruption take-aways on the Targeting Natural Resource Corruption knowledge hub.