The impact of global warming is likely to be “severe, pervasive, and irreversible”: the sobering message from the latest report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on 31 March. From dipping food yields and fisheries, to an increase in severe weather like heat waves and floods, “nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change”, warned the IPCC chair.
The report highlights not only the projected damages, but also the current steps that can be taken to mitigate those impacts. It points toward the crucial role of climate finance in providing the funds to manage these risks and build up our resilience to climate change.
As the IPCC report underlines, climate change is perhaps the greatest governance challenge the world has ever faced. Addressing it requires new ways of working and unprecedented cooperation between nations and across sectors.
Our global talks series tackled climate and corruption risks
Transparency International has been analysing corruption risks in the climate sector since 2011. Our chapters in some of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries have explored the causes and consequences of corruption in efforts to cope with climate change.
Our series of Climate Finance Integrity Talks was devised to foster the kind of joined-up thinking that is needed to respond to those challenges. The series spanned five world cities over 2013 and 2014, and brought together stakeholders from government, civil society and business, to debate realistically and openly some of the major obstacles to the effective and accountable use of climate finance. The talks cut across disciplines, providing a non-politicised forum for climate policy makers and practitioners to jointly craft solutions to the main governance challenges that could prevent climate funds from achieving the transformational reforms our planet needs.
The myriad issues addressed all pointed toward a need for increased transparency, accountability and integrity in climate finance delivery, from the global to the local level. Transparency International will continue to build upon the outcomes of the series, to ensure that investment in the response to climate change really works, and is not undercut by corruption.
Watch highlights from the series kick-off in Berlin
Transparency challenges, ideas for improvement
At the talk in Bangkok, our chapters from the Asia Pacific region highlighted challenges in accessing basic information on where climate money is coming from and being spent. Our research teams from Bangladesh and the Maldives explained the difficulties in drawing together data that accurately portrayed the scale of investment flowing in their countries. Even harder to come by was information on how decisions were made on climate spending. Participants agreed that the onus for reporting on climate finance falls on both recipient and donor countries, that climate data should be backed up by outreach efforts to make it meaningful to all segments of society, and that a system of budget classification allowing for the tracking of climate resources across sectors would improve national-level accountability.
At our talk during the COP19 climate summit in Warsaw and at the series launch in Berlin, climate and anti-corruption experts discussed the options for enhancing participation of citizens and civil society in the proactive monitoring of climate finance delivery. A lack of formal guidelines on stakeholder consultations was seen to allow project developers to carry out insufficient and ultimately unaccountable consultations. Our Mexican chapter highlighted the superficiality of official consultations in their study of registered Clean Development Mechanism projects in Mexico, which revealed limited reporting on the consultation processes and little evidence that stakeholders’ views were taken on board.
A strong recommendation that came out of these sessions was that civil society should be afforded the capacity and space required to inform national climate policy, to improve effectiveness and enhance country- and local-level ownership, and to guard against corruption and fraud.
Watch our video summary of the talks in Warsaw
Accountability of decisions, responsiveness to complaints
Our series examined chains of accountability between global-level decision-making bodies and the local communities affected by climate projects. Participants from Bangkok to Berlin analysed the existing mechanisms for airing grievances in cases of corruption and fraud, as well as the effectiveness and consistency of follow-up. Participating climate funds admitted that few complaints had been received, suggesting a lack of knowledge and awareness amongst local stakeholders of the existence of channels to denounce wrongdoing.
Participants agreed on the need for more effective coordination between grievance systems, and that options should be explored to establish referral systems so that if one body receives a complaint that is not within its mandate to address, it could be diverted to an alternative body capable of following up. A key recommendation from the discussions was that fund decision-making bodies should give greater consideration to formalising the crucial role civil society actors can perform both as watchdogs and in providing links to the grassroots.
Building integrity in forest programmes
At our talks in Mexico City and Geneva the discussions focused on forests, specifically on measures to ensure the integrity of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) from the project to the national level. Both sessions highlighted particular features of REDD+ as causes for concern and special attention. The limited pool of experts engaged in REDD+ was seen as a challenge, since independent monitors are scarce and the opportunity for collusion could arise due to that scarcity. Concerns were expressed that the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of REDD+ could be defrauded to produce more favourable, and profitable, measurements, or that conflicts of interests could undermine effective MRV.
Participants felt it critical that those living in and around forests receive sufficient training, including on technical matters, to enable them to effectively monitor and reduce the opportunities for manipulation of REDD+ as well as to ensure a fair distribution of the revenues generated.
Get more details and materials about each of the Climate Finance Integrity Talks by clicking the links below.
- Berlin Climate Finance Integrity Talk (April 2013, series launch)
- Mexico City Climate Finance Integrity Talk (May 2013)
- Bangkok Climate Finance Integrity Talk (August 2013)
- Warsaw Climate Finance Integrity Talk (November 2013)
- Geneva Climate Finance Integrity Talk (January 2014)
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