This week, the UN published its latest climate report, and the message is clear: to reign in global heating and curb emissions, we must act now. From the way we eat to the way we use and cultivate our land — drastic changes are needed.
However, corruption hampers efforts to protect the environment and effectively tackle the climate crisis. It can affect international climate policy development as well as the implementation of climate mitigation projects. Corruption also enables environmental crimes like illegal logging or mining, and, in many cases, kills environmental defenders.
A recent study shows that death rates among environmental activists have been rising steadily over the past 15 years, and that corruption and impunity have a role in this. Since 2002, over 1500 people — farmers, NGO workers, lawyers, journalists — have been killed for defending their environment and lands.
In countries where corruption thrives and rule of law is weak, those standing up against environmental crimes are taking a particularly high risk.
Take Guatemala, which has one of the highest per-capita death rates for environmental activists: 16 of them were killed between 2017 and 2018. At the same time, the country scores poorly on our Corruption Perceptions Index, ranking 144 out of 180 countries and is in the bottom third of the Rule of Law Index.
But activists are not giving up. Communities from around the world have proven that civil society can act as an effective watchdog, demanding accountability from governments and businesses in their actions against climate change.
We work to safeguard climate funds from corruption, and support those who take action against global heating and environmental crimes. Protecting the environment and counteracting the climate catastrophe is only possible if we fight corruption and impunity.
What do you think? Tell us @anticorruption.