Corruption has finally made it onto the Rio+20 agenda. Released over the weekend, the latest draft of the “Future we Want” outcome document recognizes for the first time that “corruption diverts resources away from activities that are vital for poverty eradication, the fight against hunger and sustainable development” – the goals of the summit. As negotiators prepare for a final round of talks June 20-22, it is crucial that leaders sustain momentum towards a corruption-free future.
Khadija Begum could tell negotiators why anti-corruption safeguards are needed for sustainable development to happen. She lost her home in cyclone Aila, which ravaged southern Bangladesh in 2009. Two years later, the government selected Khadija for one of 2,000 new houses, paid for by the national climate fund at a cost of U.S. $1,400 each. The result: a floor, four pillars and a roof. Khadija’s “home” has no walls, no running water and no toilet.
Left unchecked, public money for development has historically gone missing. It can end up going to the man who pays the biggest bribe rather than the best man for the job. It might be used to buy votes, or to fund a lavish election campaign. It risks falling prey to embezzlement, kickbacks and rent-seeking. The same must not be allowed to happen with climate finance – touted to be worth an unprecedented US $100 billion per year by 2020. Making climate finance corruption-free is integral to ensuring economic growth that guarantees a healthy planet and jobs well into the future.