Corruption in an era of climate change: Stakeholders discuss at high level UN anti-corruption meeting

1 October 2015, by Lisa Ann Elges, Transparency International, and Juliet S. Sorensen, Center for International Human Rights, Northwestern University School of Law.

As global leaders settle on new directions for sustainable development and climate change avoidance, they are also faced with a number of corruption hurdles, which could create road-blocks to progress and effectiveness.

Corruption and fraud can and will undermine long-term goals to protect people and the planet today and in the future. If left unchecked and unaccompanied by important governance reforms, corruption will compromise the ability of governments and companies to materially and financial address short- and long-term environmental and social needs.

Tacking corruption and strengthening governance in all countries will create greater assurances that the billions invested in adaptation, mitigation and disaster recovery efforts (loss and damage due to extreme weather events) achieve meaningful impact. Stopping financial mismanagement, embezzlement, illicit financial flows, money laundering and tax fraud can make available even greater public resources for sustainable development.

At the Conference of States Parties of the UN Convention against Corruption (COSP) to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia from 2–6 November 2015, Transparency International, Northwestern Law School’s Center for International Human Rights, GIZ, the OECD and the UNCAC Coalition will hold a side event to call on government anti-corruption leaders to commit to and take decisive action to address these pressing global demands.

In reviewing the links between corruption risks and climate change demands, participants will discuss how the UNCAC can provide a useful framework for addressing such risks. Thus the event goes squarely to heart of the CoSP in discussing key components of the UNCAC: prevention, enforcement, technical training and mutual legal assistance. Ultimately, the meeting will seek to urge commitments for enhanced law enforcement and international cooperation amongst governments, and for increased capacity-building and technical assistance to match sustainable development and anti-corruption targets.

It will further seek to engender support for the establishment of a working group to consider the role, responsibilities (accountability) and impact (best practices/lessons learned) of multilateral organisations and funds in driving transformational change in the context of sustainable development and climate change.