Transparency International to Rio+20: Address Corruption in Climate Financing

With Rio+20 around the corner, the leading international development corruption monitoring group warns of failure if mechanisms for climate financing transparency are not put into place

According to the United Nations' 2011 World Economic and Social Survey, an "incremental green investment of about 3 percent of world gross product (WGP) (about $1.9 trillion in 2010) would be required to overcome poverty, increase food production to eradicate hunger without degrading land and water resources, and avert the climate change catastrophe." The report asserts that at least 50 percent of the total investment must be made in developing countries.

Clearly, it has been and will continue to be a huge challenge to regularly raise that amount for climate investments, but another pressing challenge is dealing with the kind of high-level governmental and private sector corruption that accompanies such staggering sums.


In "The Future We Want," the zero draft of the outcome document for the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June, the word "corruption" is never mentioned. The word "transparency" appears only once, on page 8: "The strengthening and reform of the institutional framework should, among other things: a) Integrate the three pillars of sustainable development and promote the implementation of Agenda 21 and related outcomes, consistent with the principles of universality, democracy, transparency, cost-effectiveness and accountability, keeping in mind the Rio Principles, in particular common but differentiated responsibilities."

As delegates prepare for Rio, should corruption in climate financing be added to the agenda? That's exactly what Samuel Kimeu is calling for. Kimeu is the executive director of the Kenyan branch of Transparency International, a civil society organization that monitors corruption in the halls of governments and the boardrooms of corporations.

"If Rio+20 does not discuss and put in place mechanisms for transparency and fighting corruption, then we will be setting ourselves up for failure," Kimeu told Capital FM News after a preparatory Rio+20 "Green Economy" workshop in Nairobi.


Kimeu should know: His countrymen have suffered greatly because corruption is rife in Kenya, which ranks 154 out of 182 countries surveyed on TI's Corruption Perception Index.

"Our concern is to bring the issue of governance, transparency and perspectives about fighting corruption into the negotiations," said Kimeu. "We would like to see Rio+20 outcome clearly incorporate principles of good governance that will ensure resources that are set aside for purposes of combating climate change go to the right places and are not diverted to other issues…Donor governments need to assure due diligence in their financial assistance to potential recipient countries by conducting governance assessments that take into account corruption risks."


"nformation on the amount of funding received or disbursed for climate change interventions and how such funds have been spent is not in the public domain in several countries including Kenya; making public participation and accountability in dealing with this critical life-changing process virtually impossible," writes Judy Ndichu, Programme Officer of Climate Governance at Transparency International in Kenya. "The threat of facing these effects form solid ground for efforts aimed at promoting integrity and public participation in the utilisation of climate finance." Ndichu defines climate finance governance (CFG) as "the governing institutions, funding bodies, mutual principles, regulations, international conventions, norms, safeguards and shared values that exist to finance the causes and effects of climate change."

"Climate finance, under fast-track and longer term arrangements, risks failing to achieve adaptation and mitigation objectives if governance and capacity deficits exist," she asserts. "Ensuring good climate finance governance requires sufficient levels of transparency, accountability and integrity at both the international and local levels. However, given the technical complexities of institutions and issues involved, such assurances are often ubiquitous. Most people affected by climate change, lack sufficient capacity to participate in climate policy development and implementation, and climate finance monitoring."

As the United Nations Bureau of the Preparatory Process of the UNCSD continues to deliberate over the Rio+20 zero draft, they should consider Kimeu's call. They might also consider the Swahili proverb, "Fimbo ya mbali hayiuwi nyoka," which means, "A weapon which you don't have in hand won't kill a snake." To be sure, there are snakes in the climate financing grass. The only way to provide governments with the right weapons to combat those threats is to address the issue of corruption and transparency next month in Rio.



United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. 2011 World Economic and Social Survey. 2011. Accessed May 4, 2012.
United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The Future We Want - Zero draft of the outcome document. January 10, 2012. Accessed May 4, 2012.
Karongo, Catherine. Tackle graft in climate financing – TI. Capital FM. April 17, 2012. Accessed May 4, 2012.
Transparency International. Corruption Perception Index 2011. November 30, 2011. Accessed May 4, 2012.
Ibid., 3.
Ndichu, Judy. Climate Governance: The missing link in climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. Transparency International. February 14, 2012. Accessed May 4, 2012.

image: profbury, Flickr Creative Commons