CORRUPTION AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Corruption seems to be finding its way into the environment field. Not a good thing and here are some thoughts:

[ROCHE CAIMAN 11/03/2008] The President is leading a drive for clean government and promised to drive out graft and corruption. This is an excellent move but at certain levels in government individuals are entrenched in corrupt ways and are non-transparent to the point where consultancies, budgets and donor funds may be used for personal benefits with no accountability.

This type of corruption intrudes on good governance and prevents benefits from flowing to the stakeholders. There is increasing international focus on this problem. Recently, a strong global movement has started to investigate fraudulent practices in environment management. One angle is of course fisheries because of the livelihood aspects and the potential to bankrupt nations of their natural resources.

A civil society meeting led by the Institute of Security Studies of South Africa was held in December in Kenya to explore “the social and environmental crisis caused by illegal and unsustainable exploitation of marine resources in the region”.

Dr. Andre Standing of the Institute told me that in his opinion much of the illegal fishing is ongoing because of corruption at levels of regulatory and policy agencies of certain governments. The network of civil society organizations launched at that meeting includes Seychelles and has issued a Declaration of Intent to work on this problem.

The Declaration of Intent says, among other things that the governance of marine resources in many African countries is undermined by a lack of accountability and transparency. It continues by affirming that if the current trend continues it will lead to severe economic, environmental and social collapse

The World Conservation Union (IUCN), the world’s largest partnership of environment organizations including government agencies, says that corruption in fisheries is compounding the devastating effects of over fishing – and the problem could get worse. In a recent press release IUCN says that corruption taints all aspects of the fishing industry, from the scientific evidence that quotas are based on, to the mislabelling of fish.

IUCN says that corruption in fisheries management undermines the ability of scientists to know how many fish are removed from the oceans, causing inaccurate stock assessments. Fisheries managers therefore approve catches that are higher than those that would be based on sound scientific advice.

IUCN is organizing a Fisheries and Corruption meeting, hosted by the World Bank, in Washington to identify all the points where corruption happens from the hook to the dinner plate and find solutions.

Corruption is another problem that environmentalists and resource managers have to grapple with. Because it involves greedy, recalcitrant and sometimes dangerous people it is going to be a struggle to solve. But it must be done sooner than later!

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