Workshop 5.3

Workshop 5.3 Forest Governance and Corruption: Preventing Illegal and Unsustainable Deforestation

Stream 2 Natural Resources & Energy

Coordinator: Manoj Nadkarni, Programme Manager, Asia Pacific Department, Transparency International
Date: Saturday 14:00 to 16:00
Location: The Banqueting Hall

Corruption drives illegal and unsustainable deforestation globally. Despite years of sustainable forest management promotion and forest conservation schemes around the world, unsustainable deforestation persists, largely driven by corruption and weak governance. The workshop aims to unpack the various problems of corruption in forestry, identify problem areas at national, regional and global levels, and attempt to articulate recommendations for future action.

Forests are the key to the world's environmental well-being. They protect biological diversity, regulate climate patterns and store the world's carbon dioxide. Their degradation is a pressing social, economic and environmental challenge, affecting the daily lives of millions of people. Nearly 90 percent of the world's poorest citizens depend on forests for their livelihoods, including 60 million indigenous people around the globe. Destroying forests unleashes a vicious cycle. First, it sets free stored carbon dioxide, estimated at twice the amount currently floating in the world's atmosphere. Second, new studies show that climatic shifts caused by deforestation affect trees' ability to function as the world's ‘carbon sink'. Plant ecosystems, in conjunction with oceans, cut carbon dioxide emissions in half. Weak forest governance, often driven by corruption, is an important factor contributing to the destruction of forests. Illegal cutting represents as much as 80 percent of the total lumber production in some countries. Around the world, annual losses from illegal logging on public lands has been estimated at over US $10 billion by the World Bank. This figure represents more than eight times the total amount of official development assistance (ODA) earmarked for the sustainable management of forests.

Corruption is present at all stages in the lumber production chain. Bribes and political influence may be used either to facilitate logging without appropriate permits or to gain access to forests through questionable land concessions. Corrupt transactions may similarly occur in order to process and trade the logs once they have been harvested (‘timber laundering'). When violations are found, judicial corruption may prevent prosecution and accountability of actions, leaving citizens without any legal recourse. Financial transactions also can turn corrupted as a way to hide the paper trails of sales and to keep the timber trade flowing. At any of these different points along the chain, the unsustainable global demand for forest products creates added pressures for corruption to enter.

Four presenters will be asked to speak on corruption and unsustainable deforestation. Three will come from a country-level perspective, presenting the story from, for example, Indonesia, Tanzania, and Brazil. The three presentations will address the overall picture but each will focus in on one of the following issue areas: political corruption, foreign bribery, forest licensing and concession, certification processes, import/export and procurement regulations/practices, judicial corruption, and poor due diligence of financial institutions.

Moderator: Manoj Nadkarni, Forest Governance & Integrity Programme Manager, Asia Pacific Department, Transparency International
Rapporteur: Samantha Grant, Intern, Asia Pacific Department, Transparency International

Bambang Setiono,
Research Fellow, Center for International Forestry Research
Gustavo Faleiros, Journalist, O Eco, Brazil
Julian Neuman, Campaigns Director, Environmental Investigation Agency, UK