Posted 11 June 2012

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If you had a say in the world your grandchildren grew up in, what would it be like?

Negotiators at the Rio+20 summit from 20-22 June are deliberating just that. ‘The Future We Want’ are a soon-to-be set of global resolutions, aimed at shaping a world without poverty, where we can all live, eat and work without harming our planet.

But one vital consideration is still missing from the document: corruption.

Be it through embezzlement, bribery, fraud or vested interests, corruption could derail sustainable development – the goal of Rio+20.

Climate finance – one of the biggest envelopes for sustainable development investment – is set to total US $100 billion in public money per year by 2020. Many say this is already insufficient to halt global warming and adapt to its effects. If these funds are lost to corruption we also lose our last line of defence against the extreme floods, droughts and storms that climate change brings.

So why is corruption absent from the Rio+20 debate? Ignoring it will not make it go away. Transparency International will be at the summit in Rio de Janeiro next week to try to persuade delegates to tackle corruption as part of the solution to climate change, and to help work towards a future that’s sustainable and corruption-free.

Climate finance isn’t just about the climate. It could be your grandchild’s ticket out of poverty, and food and energy insecurity – if measures are put in place now to ensure that it’s spent right.


What does Transparency International want from Rio+20? Watch these short statements from leaders of several of our chapters involved in our Climate Governance Integrity Programme.

Case study

Khadija Begum lost her home in cyclone Aila, which barrelled through southern Bangladesh in 2009. Two years later she was selected for one of 2000 new houses, paid for by the national climate fund at a cost of US $1400 each. The result: a floor, four pillars and a roof. Khadija’s ‘home’ has no walls, no running water and no toilet.

Khadija told Transparency International Bangladesh how the builders sold some of the iron and cement they were given. They weren’t officially accountable to anyone, so their work went unmonitored. And the money they were entrusted with slipped off the radar.


Limited access to information means that tracking climate finance can be difficult, if not impossible. This means that money might end up in personal bank accounts rather than where it’s really needed. We want financial flows, budgets and transactions to be made visible and easy to understand.

Accountability also poses a big problem. It is often unclear who is responsible for choosing how and where climate money is spent. Protected by anonymity, people are less likely to act responsibly. We need to know who makes decisions and why, and people should be held to account when those decisions are the wrong ones.

A frequent lack of oversight means that abuses such as bribery, market manipulation or land grabbing may pass unnoticed. Independent bodies need to be watching over climate projects to double-check that they’re in everyone’s best interests, and not just the interests of a select few.