Workshop on Corruption and Anti-Corruption Strategies in Climate Financing

Transparency, accountability and integrity are key determining factors for sustainable development. On the other hand corruption and lack of accountability and integrity can have a major impact on the results of development cooperation. At the international level, 140 countries have signed the United Nations Convention on Anti-Corruption (UNCAC), and there are numerous initiatives from all parts of society to fight corruption. Transparency International (TI) for example is a major actor in raising awareness on corruption and enhancing anti-corruption efforts at both international and national levels.     

The Philippines is a State Party to the UNCAC and just recently completed its assessment of implementation. Under the current leadership of the Aquino Administration, the fight against corruption is a major item on the political agenda. A cabinet cluster on Good Governance and Anti-Corruption had been created, related mechanisms have been put in place and first steps towards implementation of integrity and anti-corruption measures have been taken. The Office of the Ombudsman, which became fully operational in May 1988, is the lead agency tasked to investigate complaints against public officials ensuring the transparent and accountable use of public funds.

Countries in the Asia and Pacific region, including the Philippines, are highly vulnerable towards the impacts of climate change and are increasingly affected by extreme weather events. At the same time these counties are important players in the international discussion on climate mitigation leading to intended nationally determined contributions (INDC) joint reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions, expected to be submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the way towards an international climate agreement to be forged in Paris end of 2015 in order to mitigate climate change. With the establishment of the Green Climate Fund now holding USD 10.2 billion for funding of adaptation and mitigation actions at country level, and the international discussion on performance based mechanisms to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), large scale financing is expected to be channeled to countries under the international climate regime. The Government of the Philippines has established the People’s Survival Fund (PSF) with an initial budget of PhP 1 billion in 2015. The PSF will be accessible by local government units for climate adaptation measures. It has to be ensured that the fund is being used in an effective way following transparency and accountability rules.

Corruption is one of the main obstacles to development. Corruption and a lack of transparency in public revenues and spending undermine poverty alleviation efforts and democratic participation. Public resources are squandered instead of being used to promote sustainable development for all. The World Bank has estimated that bribery alone is costing the world 1 trillion US dollars every year.   

Corruption creates legal uncertainty. By inflating costs, it holds back the development of the private sector, distorts competition, and deters investors. Corruption weakens political institutions and ultimately calls into question the legitimacy of the state. Disadvantaged sections of the population, particularly women and children, are worst hit.  It makes it much harder and more expensive for them to access much needed public services such as basic education and health care. Corruption can be fuelled by inadequate control mechanisms and a lack of transparency and accountability.

Country-specific factors also play a part. It is often a country’s rich reserves of natural resources such as oil, gas, minerals or timber that spawn large-scale corruption and non-transparency. In areas like infrastructure or the health sector, corruption can also stand in the way of development. Transparency International (TI) has found, for example, that corruption seriously compromises an individual’s right to health. In the end, corruption and non-transparency weaken progress towards sustainable development. 

Prevention of corruption in development cooperation is a major challenge for all actors involved such as but not limited to the development partners, government agencies, private sector and civil society. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has elaborated a strategy on how to support partners in addressing corruption and integrity issues. Germany is helping development-oriented partner governments to rid government institutions of corruption and make public administration transparent, effective and responsive to the public’s needs. In 1998, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) adopted an anticorruption policy postulating zero tolerance towards corruption and fraudulent and collusive practices in ADB operations.[1] ADB works to ensure that project implementation is not derailed by corrupt contractors/consultants and other, including government officials, and that outputs and funds go to the intended beneficiaries. ADB also conducts governance risks assessments at project, sector and country levels and mitigates corruption in cooperation with the government and other development partners.

Other development partners have developed similar approaches on how to support governments and civil society actors to address governance issues in order to achieve results of development efforts and make efficient use of national and international funding towards sustainable development.   

With climate change as an imminent threat to development and the increasing funding available from national budgets and international resources to address mitigation options and the impacts of climate change, the discussion includes strengthening the principles of accountability, transparency, integrity and the rule of law in the responses to climate change in order to pave the way for a more equitable, sustainable future for all. 

In this light, GIZ and the ADB in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center, and in partnership with the Office of the Ombudsman is organizing a Training Workshop on Corruption Risks and Anti-Corruption Strategies in Climate Financing to build capacities on how corruption and non-transparency can be most effectively addressed and how anti-corruption efforts can be integrated into measures of good governance in the fight against climate change to ensure transparent, efficient and accountable use of climate finance for effective projects and tangible results. 

[1] ADB. 1998. Anticorruption Policy. Manila