voices.transparency-Corruption and illegal deforestation go hand in hand. The best way to tackle them is through stronger community land rights and greater democracy.
What do Brazil, Congo, Honduras and Vietnam have in common? They are all resource-rich, heavily forested countries with score lows on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), a global index of public sector corruption.
They are all located in important rainforest regions, which are home to a major share of the world’s biodiversity. Preserving it is not only important for the climate but also for billions of women and men who rely on forest resources to survive.
Since 1995, Transparency International has ranked most countries according to the CPI. The most recent report is unambiguous: the vast majority of countries assessed have made little to no progress in ending corruption. Most forest-rich African countries fall into this category.
The impact of corruption cannot be overstated.
Approximately 41 per cent of Africans live in poverty while stolen assets, estimated at US$50 billion, are syphoned out of the continent every year — money that could be invested in jobs and social services. In Sub-Saharan Africa, one in every two citizens reported paying a bribe for land services such as registering land for their family homes. In forested countries, local communities and indigenous groups are particularly vulnerable to corruption; collusion between powerful corporate interests and illegal logging are destroying their livelihoods and degrading their environment.
Central Africa is home to the second largest rainforest in the world, harbouring considerable natural resources including minerals, oil and wood. At the same time, many of the region’s countries perform very poorly in the CPI. Some are grappling with prolonged crisis, such as the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); others like Cameroon, Gabon and the Republic of Congo are facing recurring social unrest and contested elections.