In November 2011, PricewaterhouseCoopers warned that “The implementation of REDD+ in DRC will face numerous challenges because of the widespread nature of corruption in the country”. As in all other sectors, PwC added, corruption is “likely to be ever present”.
PwC’s report, “Implementing REDD+ in the Democratic Republic of Congo: How to manage the risk of corruption” (pdf file 3.7 MB), was commissioned by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).
“Risks of corruption will threaten the implementation of REDD+ in DRC in all of the phases,” PwC states in the report and notes that,
In October 2012, Global Witness reported that industrial logging companies were abusing “Artisanal Logging Permits” in order to bypass DR Congo’s freeze on new logging concessions announced in 2002. “The Congolese authorities have been routinely breaking their own laws when handing out these logging permits,” says Colin Robertson of Global Witness.
Two months later, the International Monetary Fund halted a US$532 million loan programme to DR Congo over concerns with transparency in the country’s mining sector. Global Witnesscommented that “concerns over possible corruption in the country’s mining sector were so serious that the IMF was justified in stopping its lending”.
Lars Ekman, a senior adviser in NORAD, has spent 10 years in Africa including two years in Kinshasha where he supported and facilitated PwC’s November 2011 corruption report. At aseminar in Norway in 2012, Ekman told the following story to show that “corruption threats are very real” for REDD in DR Congo:
“One Sunday morning in Kinshasa, I was asked by a person to come and meet him and pick up a brown envelope. There was no money in there, but a very interesting document that this person wanted to have action upon. It was a draft contract between a known businessman in Kinshasa and the government, the Ministry of Forestry and Environment. The contract proposal was a 25 year monopoly right to market carbon offsets from an area of 50 million hectares, which is about one-third of the forest area of Congo.
“There was a lot of pressure on the Ministry, because this businessman, who had a track record in the diamond industry in the Congo, had a very good relation with the President’s office. So there was some considerable pressure.
“What we did was to send a message jointly, us and UN-REDD and the World Bank that the REDD pilot in DRC would be off called, cancelled, if this contract was signed. I don’t know whether it was signed or not, but it hasn’t been live so to speak and had any direct affect.”
While this story provides a fascinating glimpse into corruption in DR Congo, it also raises several questions……