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Links between youth, climate change and security

The combined pressures of climate change and growing youth populations will influence security environments and affect already fragile contexts, according to a new UNICEF report co-authored by peacebuilding charity International Alert and the Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), and commissioned by UNICEF UK.

The report, titled Climate change, violence and young people, is based on four case studies from Egypt, Kenya, Indonesia and Guatemala, and illustrates the growing challenges these countries face: weak governance, low resilience to the impacts of climate change, significant ‘youth bulges’ (populations with a high number 15-29-year-olds), livelihoods vulnerable to environmental change and fragile underlying security conditions. The timeframe for this study looks out to 2050, when the effects of climate change and demographic growth will be more pronounced.

The report shows that regions where large youth bulges will be present in the coming decades generally have low resilience to climate change impacts and already experience poor governance and social and political instability. Without adequate planning and preparation in those vulnerable countries, the pre-existing security risks may be exacerbated by low resilience to climate change, and may compromise sustainable development.

The new research finds that the combined effects of climate change and growing populations are putting additional strain on already stressed governments and social systems. If not well managed, pressure on basic service provision such as health, energy or education can disrupt people’s lives, particularly amongst young people.

Large youth cohorts can boost economic growth under the right conditions. However, they can also agitate, sometimes violently, for political change when their economic needs are not met, and climate impacts are likely to complicate economic growth and increase pressure on livelihoods”. (Climate change, violence and young people, 2015)

In turn, instability and fragility also impair economic performance, erode people’s resilience and limit their capacity to sustainably adapt to change, further increasing vulnerability to climate change.

The report provides some key findings and recommendations in order to inform appropriate responses and policies:

  • Tackling disaster risk in a manner that is sensitive to the political context, especially specific dynamics of conflict or fragility, provides opportunities to reduce long-term disruption to youth education, livelihoods and well-being that can follow from disasters and potentially increase the risk of conflict;
  • Forward-looking policies that invest in education, secure employment opportunities and representation in governance can avoid further marginalising youth, and instead harness their potential to boost growth and development;
  • Creating sustainable and inclusive economic growth that provides opportunities for young people and is resilient to future climate impacts may prove a challenge in the coming decades, particularly for states with already weak governance capacities;
  • Building economic and social capital to promote peace and stability will be particularly relevant in countries that face concurrent demographic and climate risks;
  • Exploring further the links between population, resources, economy, governance and how the interactions between these factors can positively or negatively reinforce security trends.

Press Releases: Remarks on Climate Change at COP-20

SECRETARY KERRY: Todd, thank you very, very much. Thank you all for being here. Thank you very much, and it’s a privilege for me to be able to share a few words here on what is, by necessity, a quick trip, and I apologize for that, and I am grateful for your steadfast efforts to get us over the finish line.

Todd and I have worked together for a long time now, going all the way back to my time in the Senate, and I appreciate, Todd, all the work that you and the entire delegation have been doing. I just had a chance to meet with them. And I thank you not just for your work here in Lima, but for your work all around the world.

I also want to thank a few other people who are here today, if I may – our terrific Ambassador in Peru, Brian Nichols; the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres; Environment Minister of Peru, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal; and all of the other diplomats, scientists, experts, activists, all of you concerned citizens who are hard at work in order to make sure that we get this right.

I’m also delighted to say that because of all that hard work, I understand we now have enough pledges from the international community to meet and exceed the initial Climate Green Fund target of 10 billion. And the United States is very proud to be contributing 3 billion, and we are grateful for the announcement of countries like Australia, Belgium, Colombia, and Peru that they have made in recent days to help get us over the hurdle. All of this will help to ensure that this fund can succeed in helping the most overburdened nations of the world to do more to be able to respond to climate change. And finally, I want to thank Peru for hosting the COP-20, a critical stepping stone to the agreement that we must reach in Paris next year.

Now for Peru, climate change is personal. It will determine whether future generations will know Peru as we know it today, as we have known it, or whether today’s treasures are confined to history. Think about it: Peru is home to 70 percent of the world’s tropical glaciers, to nearly all of the world’s major ecosystems, and to more fish species than any other country on earth. But already, almost half the volume of many glaciers has melted away just in the last 30 years or so. Ecosystems are visibly being destroyed before our eyes. And fisheries are threatened. So this is not just a fight by Peru; it is a fight for Peru.

And this is not just another policy issue. Measured against the array of global threats that we face today – and there are many – terrorism, extremism, epidemics, poverty, nuclear proliferation – all challenges that know no borders – climate change absolutely ranks up there equal with all of them. And I challenge anyone who has thought about the science or listened – actually listened carefully to national security experts tell us that these dangers are real – I challenge them to tell us otherwise and to show us otherwise. I might add that we have, as Todd mentioned, the distinguished former Vice President of the United States and Nobel Prize winner who was the leader with all of us on this issue, but the first among equals, believe me, in his passion and commitment to this. And I’ve often heard him reciting the numbers of studies and the amazing amount of evidence that has been tallied up versus the paucity of a few usually industry-paid-for false analyses that try to suggest otherwise. And while no one here believes that a global climate agreement is going to be the silver bullet that eliminates this threat, I think everybody here can agree that we certainly won’t eliminate it without an agreement.

Now I know that everybody in this room is committed, all of us, but I think when you’re among the committed, you have a responsibility to be particularly candid. It seems that every time I speak at an event about climate change, someone introducing me, as Todd did today, said, “John Kerry’s been to every major gathering since Rio,” and it’s true. But I’ll tell you something, that’s kind of troubling. Because it was in Rio, as far back as 1992, when I heard the secretary-general, as Al did when we were there, declare, “Every bit of evidence I’ve seen persuades me that we are on a course leading to tragedy.”

That was 1992. This morning, I woke up in Washington to the television news of a super-storm rainfall in California and Washington State – torrential, record-breaking rain in record-breaking short time. It’s become commonplace now to hear of record-breaking climate events. But this is 2014, 22 years later, and we’re still on a course leading to tragedy. So this is an issue that’s personal for me, just as it is for you, absolutely.

I did spend those years working on climate change during my time in the U.S. Senate, and I’m not surprised at all that Al Gore is still here, a veteran of Lima and a veteran of every other meeting, and a veteran of writing and speaking and leading on this in an effort to try to make a change. We were working on this since the 1980s, and both of us can remember 1988, the first hearing we held in the United States Senate on this issue, when Jim Hansen told us then that climate change was real, it is here, and it is happening now. That’s 1988.

I appreciate the remarkable leadership that Al has provided on this issue for all that time, but this year, I’m not at this meeting, nor is he, just because of our personal histories here with climate change. I can tell you I’m not here in that role. I’m privileged to be here as President Obama’s lead international advocate that this issue should be personal for absolutely everybody – man, woman, child, businessperson, student, grandparent. Wherever we live, whatever our calling, whatever our personal background might be, this issue affects every human on the planet, and if any challenge requires global cooperation and effective diplomacy, this is it.

Now I know it’s human nature at times to believe that mankind can somehow defy Mother Nature. But I think it is the plight of humanity that, in fact, we cannot. And whether we’re able to promptly and effectively address climate change is as big a test of global leadership, of the international order – such as we call it – it’s the biggest test of that that you’ll find. Every nation – and I repeat this as we hear the debates going back and forth here – every nation has a responsibility to do its part if we’re going to pass this test. And only those nations who step up and respond to this threat can legitimately lay claim to any mantle of leadership and global responsibility. And yes, if you’re a big, developed nation and you’re not helping to lead, then you are part of the problem.

Rest assured, if we fail, future generations will not and should not forgive those who ignore this moment, no matter their reasoning. Future generations will judge our effort not just as a policy failure, but as a massive, collective moral failure of historic consequence, particularly if we’re just bogged down in abstract debates. They will want to know how we together could possibly have been so blind, so ideological, so dysfunctional, and frankly, so stubborn that we failed to act on knowledge that was confirmed by so many scientists in so many studies over such a long period of time and documented by so much evidence.

The truth is we will have no excuse worth using. The science of climate change is science, and it is screaming at us, warning us, compelling us – hopefully – to act. Ninety-seven percent of peer- reviewed climate studies have confirmed that climate change is happening and that human activity is responsible. And I’ve been involved, as many of you have, in public policy debates for a long time. It’s pretty rare to get a simple majority or a supermajority of studies to say the same thing, but 97 percent over 20-plus years – that is a dramatic statement of fact that no one of good conscience or good faith should be able to ignore.

Now you only have to look at the most recent reports to see in all too vivid detail the stark reality that we are faced with. Scientists agree that the emission of climate pollutants like carbon dioxide, methane, soot, hydrofluorocarbons all contribute to climate change. In fact, basic science tells us that life on earth wouldn’t exist at the heretofore 57 degrees average temperature Fahrenheit which allows life to exist. Without a greenhouse effect, life wouldn’t exist, and if the greenhouse effect is good enough to provide you with life itself, obviously, logic suggests that it’s also going to act like a greenhouse if you add more gases and they’re trapped and you heat up the earth. This is pretty logical stuff, and it’s astounding to me that even in the United States Senate and elsewhere, we have people who doubt it.

People agree that energy sources that we’ve relied on for decades to fuel our cars and power our homes – things like oil and coal – are largely responsible for sending these warming gasses up into the atmosphere. And they agree that emissions coming from deforestation and from agriculture also send enormous quantities of carbon pollution into our atmosphere. And they agree that if we continue down the same path that we are on today, the world as we know it will change profoundly and it will change dramatically for the worse.

Now you don’t need a Ph.D. to be able to see for yourself that the world is already changing. You just need to pay attention. Thirteen of the warmest years on record have occurred since 2000, with this year, again, on track to be the warmest of all. We’re getting used to every next year being the warmest year of all. It seems almost every year that happens now.

In 2013, countries in Southern Africa experienced the worst droughts that they had seen in 30 years. In Brazil, they saw the first – worst drought in half a century. New Zealand really – recently experienced a drought so bad that farmers had to slaughter their dairy cattle and sheep because they didn’t have enough food and water to keep the animals alive.

And the historic droughts in some parts of the world are matched only by historic floods in other parts. In June of last year, India was hit by the worst monsoon flooding in almost a century. Nearly 6,000 people lost their lives. What’s really disturbing is that the science has been telling us loud and clear that this is coming at us, and if we continue down the current path, the impacts are expected to increase exponentially.

For example, scientists predict that by the end of the century, the sea could rise a full meter. Now, I’ve had people who say to me a meter doesn’t sound like that much to some people, but let me tell you: when it comes to a rising sea, one meter would displace hundreds of millions of people worldwide, cost hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity. It would put countless homes and schools and parks – entire cities and even countries – at risk.

Scientists also predict that climate change could mean even longer, more unpredictable monsoon ceilings – seasons and more extreme weather events. And while we can’t tell whether one particular storm is specifically caused by climate change, scientists absolutely do predict many more of these disastrous storms are likely to occur unless we stop and reverse course.

Last year I visited Tacloban. I went to the Philippines to visit the site, the wake of the Typhoon Haiyan and I will tell you it is incomprehensible that that kind of storm – or worse – becomes the norm. Yet just this past weekend, that same region of the Philippines got slammed by yet another typhoon, with winds over 100 miles per hour and torrential downpours.

And what is particularly frustrating about the real-life damage that’s being done – and the threat of more to come – is that it doesn’t have to be inevitable. Nothing suggested this is inevitable. Human cost. There’s nothing preordained about the course that we’re on, except habits – bad habits. The challenge that we face may be immense, but I can’t underscore enough: This is not insurmountable.

Mankind is creating the problem, and mankind can solve the problem. And unlike some problems that we face, this one already has a ready-made solution provided by mankind that is staring us in the face: The solution to climate change is energy policy.

And there is still time for us to come together as a global community and make the right energy choices. We can significantly cut emissions and prevent the worst consequences of climate change from happening. And anyone who tells you otherwise is just plain wrong, period. The science shows that at this moment there still is a window. It’s shutting. It’s smaller. It’s not as big an opening. And indeed, mitigation is here with us as a result, but there is time for us to change course and avoid the worst consequences – but the window is closing quickly.

So we have to approach this global threat with the urgency that it warrants. Leaders need to lead. Countries need to step up. And that means we have to come together around an ambitious climate agreement between now and the end of next year. Let me be clear: We’re not going to solve everything at this meeting or even in Paris – I understand that. But we must take giant, measurable, clear steps forward that will set us on a new path. And that means concrete actions and ambitious commitments.

Now, as I mentioned – as Todd mentioned, too – I have been coming to these conferences for a long time. And I know the discussions can be tense and the decisions are difficult. And I know how angry some people are about the predicament they’ve been put in by big nations that have benefitted from industrialization for a long period of time. I know the debates over who should do what and how hard fought and how complex. And if it weren’t hard, this would have been solved a while ago.

But the fact is we simply don’t have time to sit around going back and forth about whose responsibility it is to act. Pretty simple, folks: It’s everyone’s responsibility, because it’s the net amount of carbon that matters, not each country’s share.

Now certainly, the biggest emitters, including the United States – and I’m proud that President Obama has accepted that responsibility – have to contribute more to the solution. But ultimately, every nation on Earth has to apply current science and make state-of-the-art energy choices if we’re going to have any hope of leaving our future to the next generation to the safe and healthy planet that they deserve.

Now I want to be very clear: President Obama and I understand the way countries feel, particularly about the major emitters. We get it. The United States and other industrial nations have contributed significantly to this problem – before, I might add, we fully understood the consequences. And we recognize the responsibility we have now to lead the global response.

But that is exactly what the United States is doing. It’s a challenge that President Obama has taken on. And today, thanks to the President’s Climate Action Plan, the United States is well on its way to meeting our international commitments to seriously cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. And that’s because we’re going straight to the largest source of pollution. We’re targeting emissions from transportation and power sources, which account for roughly 60 percent of the dangerous greenhouse gases that we release. And we’re also taking – tackling smaller opportunities in every sector of the economy in order to address every greenhouse gas.

The President has put in place standards to double the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks in the American roads. We’ve also proposed regulations that will curb carbon pollution coming from new power plants, and similar regulations to limit the carbon pollution coming from power plants that are already up and running, and we’re going to take a bunch of them out of commission.

At the same time, since President Obama took office, the United States has upped our wind energy production more than threefold, and we’ve upped our solar energy production more than tenfold. We’ve also become smarter about the way we use energy in our homes and businesses. And as a result, we’re emitting less overall than we have at any time in the last 20 years.

This is by far the most ambitious set of climate change actions that the United States has ever undertaken. And it’s the reason we were able to recently announce our post-2020 goal of reducing emissions from 26 to 28 percent, from 2005 levels, by 2025. That will put us squarely on the road to a more sustainable and prosperous economy. And the upper end of this target would also enable us to cut our emissions by 83 percent by 2050 – which is what science says we need to do to meet the goal of preventing over 2 degrees of Celsius warming.

Now, we’re proud of this target, and we’re grateful that with the targets that China and the EU have also announced, we now have strong commitments from the three largest emitters in the world. Is it enough? No. But it’s the beginning, which begins to move the economy and begins to move businesses and move decisions in the direction we need to go. And we’re seeing encouraging signs already that others are prepared to follow. For example, last month Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Burma, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam all announced at the ASEAN Summit that they would come forward with their post-2020 emission reduction contributions well in advance of Paris, the end, perhaps – possibly by the end of March next year.

Now, I emphasize again: No single country, not even the United States, can solve this problem or foot this bill alone. That’s not rhetoric. It is literally impossible.

Just think of it this way: If every single American biked to work or carpooled to school, and used only solar panels to power their homes – if we each in America planted a dozen trees – if we somehow eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions – guess what? That still wouldn’t be enough to offset the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world and providing the same level of damage at a different point in time than we face today. The same would be true if China or India came down to zero emissions, if either was the only country to act. It’s just not enough for one country or even a few countries to reduce emissions when other countries continue to fill the atmosphere with carbon pollution as they see fit. If even one or two major economies fail to respond to this threat, it will counteract much of the good work that the rest of the world does. And when I say we need a global solution, I mean it. And there’s simply no excuse for anything else.

Now, of course industrialized countries have to play a major role in reducing emissions, but that doesn’t mean that other nations are just free to go off and repeat the mistakes of the past and that they somehow have a free pass to go to the levels that we’ve been at where we understand the danger.

Now, I know this is difficult for developing nations. We understand that. But we have to remember that today more than half of global emissions – more than half – are coming from developing nations. So it is imperative that they act, too.

And at the end of the day, if nations do choose the energy sources of the past over the energy sources of the future, they’ll actually be missing out on the opportunity to build the kind of economy that will be the economy of the future and that will thrive and be sustainable.

Coal and oil may be cheap ways to power an economy today in the near term, but I urge nations around the world – the vast majority of whom are represented here, at this conference – look further down the road. I urge you to consider the real, actual, far-reaching costs that come along with what some think is the cheaper alternative. It’s not cheaper.

I urge you to think about the economic impacts related to agriculture and food security – and how scientists estimate that the changing climate is going to yield – is going to reduce the capacity of crops to produce the yields they do today in rice or maize or wheat, and they could fall by 2 percent every single decade. Think about what that means for millions of farmers around the world and the impact it will have on food prices on almost every corner of the world, and particularly as each decade we see the world’s population rise towards that 9 billion mark. Then factor in how that would also exacerbate the human challenges like hunger and malnutrition.

Add to that the other long-term-related problems that come from relying on 20th century energy sources and the fact that air pollution caused by the use of fossil fuel contributes to the deaths of at least 4.5 million people every year and all the attendant healthcare costs that go with it.

And for everyone thinking that you can’t afford this transition or invest in alternative or renewable energy, do the real math on the costs. Consider the sizable costs associated with rebuilding in the wake of every devastating weather event. In 2012 alone, extreme weather events cost the United States $110 billion. When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines last year, the cost of responding to the damage exceeded $10 billion. Even smaller-scale disasters bear a hefty price tag, and the overall cost to businesses from the severe floods that hit parts of the United Kingdom earlier this year was an estimated 1.3 billion. You start adding up these 100 billions and 10 billions here in country after country, and think if that money had been put to helping to subsidize the transition to a better fuel, to an alternative or renewable, to cleaner, to emissions-free, to clean emissions capacity. Those are just the costs of damages. Think of the costs for healthcare due to pollution. Largest single cause of young children in America being hospitalized during our summers is environmentally air-induced asthma that those kids suffer. The agricultural and environmental degradation is palpable. So my friends, it’s time for countries to do some real cost accounting.

The bottom line is that we can’t only factor in the cost of immediate energy need or energy transition. We have to factor in the long-term cost of carbon pollution. And we have to factor in the cost of survival itself. And if we do, we will find that the cost of pursuing clean energy now is far cheaper than paying for the consequences of climate change later. Nicolas Stern showed us that in a study any number of years ago. And we still need to get all of our countries more serious about doing that accounting.

In economic terms – bottom line, in economic terms, this is not a choice between bad and worse, not at all. This is a choice between growing or shrinking your economy. And what we don’t hear enough of is the most important news of all, that climate change presents one of the greatest economic opportunities of all time on earth.

I said earlier that the solution to climate change is as clear as the problem. It’s here. The solution is energy policy. Well, let’s take a look at that.

The global energy market of the future is poised to be the largest market the world has ever known. The market which grew the United States of America during the 1990s, when we had unprecedented wealth creation – more wealth creation in America in the 1990s than in the 1920s, when we had no income tax and you’ve heard of the names of Rockefeller and Carnegie and Mellon and so forth – more was created in the 1990s. Every quintile of our income earners went up in their income. Guess what? It was a $1 trillion market with one billion users. It was the computer, high-tech mobile device.

The energy market today is a $6 trillion dollar market with 4 to 5 billion users today, and it’s going to go up to that 9 billion users. By comparison, if you looked at the differential, this is an opportunity to put millions of people to work building the infrastructure, doing the transition, and pulling us back from this brink.

Between now and 2035, investment in the energy sector is expected to reach nearly $17 trillion. And that’s without us giving some of the price signals that we ought to be giving to the marketplace to make this transition. That’s more than the entire GDP of China and India combined. Imagine the opportunities for clean energy innovation. Imagine the businesses that could be launched, the jobs that’d be created, in every corner of the globe.

The only question is are we going to do it fast enough to make the difference. The technology is out there. Make no mistake, it’s out there now. None of this is beyond our capacity. And the question – and it really is still open to question; it’s why we’re here and it’s why we’re going to Paris – is whether or not it’s beyond our collective resolve.

Ask yourself, if Al Gore and Dr. Pachauri and Jim Hansen and the people who’ve been putting the science out there for years are wrong about this and we make these choices to do the things I’m talking about, what’s the worst thing that can happen to us for making these choices? Create a whole lot of new jobs. Kick our economies into gear. Have healthier people, reduce the cost of healthcare. Live up to our environmental responsibilities. Have a world that’s more secure because we have energy that isn’t dependent on one part of the world or another. That’s the worst that can happen to us.

But what happens if the climate skeptics are wrong? Catastrophe. And we have a responsibility to put in place the precautionary principle when you’re given certain evidence and you’re a public official.

So today I call on all of you here in Lima – negotiators, diplomats, scientists, economists, and concerned citizens in Peru and around the world – to demand resolve from your leaders. Speak out. Make climate change an issue that no public official can ignore for even one more day, let alone for one more election. Make a transition towards clean energy the only policy that you’ll accept. And make it clear that an ambitious agreement in Paris is not an option, it’s an urgent necessity.

We can get there. How do I know that? And I do; I believe we can get there. Because, at the end of the day, we have no choice. And because we’re starting to see signs that, thankfully, more and more of the world is coming to the same conclusion.

You only have to look at the United States and China to understand what I’m talking about. Our two nations are the world’s largest consumers of energy, and we are the world’s largest emitters of global greenhouse gases. Together, we account for roughly 40 percent of the world’s emissions. And it’s no secret that we’ve had very different views when it comes to climate change.

I can remember discussions with Chinese 15, 10 years ago that went nowhere. But in Beijing last month I had the privilege of joining President Obama as he stood next to President Xi to jointly, side by side, announce our respective ambitious post-2020 mitigation commitments and to call on other countries to come forward with their own ambitious targets as quickly as possible, so we can conclude a strong agreement next year. The United States and China – two countries long regarded as the leaders of opposing camps in these negotiations – have now found common ground on this issue. That is a historic milestone, and it should send a clear message to all of us that the roadblocks we’ve hit for decades can be removed from our path.

I’m not suggesting it’s going to happen in one fell swoop or that it’s easy – there isn’t a person in this room who probably isn’t pretty tuned in to how hard it is – but I am confident we can rise above the debates that have dragged us down. We can find a way to summon the shared resolve that we need to tackle this shared threat. And if we do that, then we will reach an agreement and we will meet this challenge. That is our charge, and for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and our responsibility as human beings on this earth, this is a charge we must keep. Thank you very much.

Speeches: New Frontiers in Understanding and Addressing Corruption

(As delivered)

International Anti-Corruption Day


Thank you very much for the kind introduction, Sarah. It is a pleasure to be here today.

Just eleven years ago, the UN General Assembly designated this calendar date as International Anti-Corruption Day.

International and national anti-corruption efforts have moved dramatically and have seen a lot of progress in a short time – particularly in the establishment of international norms. But we must do more.

Today, I’d like to explain why anti-corruption remains a priority – and a national security concern for the U.S. government – and to outline how we can combat corruption in a more tailored, integrated, and effective way.

I should also explain my own perspective is a bit unique. The “J” U/S handles policy and programs on issues such as terrorism, refugees, security sector reform, human rights, and preventing conflict. Part of what makes us, “J” different is our focus on how U.S. foreign policy affects people as much as we look at foreign policy as pertains to governments. And corruption is an issue that gravely affects global citizens, in addition to undermining the international economy, regional security and good governance. So our J perspective starts from the premise that corruption is a populist scourge, and that securing human rights and personal safety and opportunity for all necessarily entails combating corruption. The more I understand about the challenges that J bureaus and offices face in their work, the more clearly I see corruption as an endemic threat that weaves throughout what would otherwise be disparate efforts, eroding the trust, efficiency, and justice that healthy societies require.

We all know corruption is bad. I’ll disaggregate three different negative effects: 1) its impact on human development; 2) on economic vibrancy; and 3) on security. As the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, I will highlight insecurity as perhaps corruption’s most underappreciated feature (although one that Sarah Chayes is doing much to highlight).

The Problem of Corruption

Human Development and Human Rights Impact

When politicians steal public funds rather than spend them appropriately, schools go without books, patients go without medicine, merchants go without bridges and roads.

The African Union estimates that one-quarter of Africa’s GDP is lost every year due to corruption – dramatically increasing levels of poverty in an already heartbreakingly poor region.

In just the health sector, World Bank surveys show that in some countries up to 80 percent of non-salary funds never reach local facilities. Then, when crises like Ebola hit, there is little institutional capability to address it.

Graft frays the fabric of the social contract, undermining attempts by government to assert legitimacy or establish democracy.

Corruption is also the glue that holds many authoritarian regimes together, giving rulers the ability to divide spoils, and the opportunity to out the “dirt” on cronies when convenient or if they turn disloyal.

Corruption leaves average citizens vulnerable.

When their rights are effectively are up for sale, laws to protect people – to halt human trafficking, hate crimes, and gender-based violence – go unenforced.

We see this, for example, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where victims of crime, including sexual violence, have little access to the justice system and, even when they do, they often find that perpetrators are likely to simply “buy” their way out of prosecution. The U.S. government is supporting mobile courts in the DRC to make justice more accessible in rural areas, but this intervention will not be able to succeed if corruption in the court system persists.

Economic Impact

The impact of corruption on growth, competition, and innovation is similarly well documented.

When companies have to pay bribes to cut through red tape it actually incentivizes the creation of more red tape, slowing transaction times and raising business expenses.

In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates that around the world, corruption adds an average of up to 10% to the cost of doing business.

Corruption has a particularly harmful effect on the many American companies that play by the rules, supported by robust enforcement here at home.

When our businesses go to compete overseas, corruption robs them of a level playing field.

If a public procurement decision in Russia is made not on the basis of merit but on the basis of bribery, then our companies will either stay home or lose the bid.

That affects our economy and puts pressure on our businesses to cut corners.

It also means that the Russian consumer loses out – receiving a substandard product because the contractor spent overhead on a bribe instead of on workmanship. “Shared prosperity,” the goal of the international economic system in its truest form, requires a shared commitment to transparent rule-based economies that work in the best interest of citizens, the United States and our partners overseas.

Part of this commitment is about protecting our own financial systems from harboring stolen assets. Proceeds of corruption are often sheltered in banks or shell corporations in Western Europe and the U.S. These ill-gotten gains frequently are used to prop up unaccountable regimes or finance terrorism.

We are working with our partners, especially at the G20, to guarantee that our financial systems are not havens for stolen assets. It has become easier to trace how corruption erodes democracy and eats away at prosperity.

We now have several tools, such as the World Bank and UN measures of corruption’s impact on development, the U.S. State Department’s annual Human Rights Reports, NGOs like Transparency International that document corruption’s impact on freedom and accountability, and institutions like the OECD that quantify corruption’s impact on business.

But corruption has other impacts, perhaps more difficult to measure but no less insidious.

Security Impact

It turns out that corruption is even more dangerous than we thought.

Corruption alienates and angers citizens, which can cause them to lose faith in the state, or, worse, fuel insurgencies and violent extremism.

Examples abound. In Afghanistan, the Taliban continues to exploit public discontent with corruption to garner support.

In Iraq, disillusionment with the government – including its corruption – creates fertile soil for ISIL to exploit. Just last week, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi discovered that 50,000 “ghost soldiers” were listed on the government payroll, costing Iraqis approximately $380 million a year.

Citizens feel betrayed by these scams, indirectly because their taxes and resources are enriching nominal “public servants” but also directly because they do not receive the security and protection they both finance and require.

Take the example of Nigeria, where corruption has hollowed out the national military, leaving soldiers underfed, underpaid, and unable to defend citizens against internal threats such as Boko Haram.

The cost is grave: In 2014 alone, Boko Haram has killed more than 4,000 people and displaced some 1.5 million. It has declared an Islamic Caliphate in northeast Nigeria and taken the reins of governance in some communities. While the United States is working with Nigerian partners to confront this threat and prevent atrocities,that work is much harder to do because of corruption’s corrosive effects on the military.

Transparency International has found that many countries have weak controls over defense procurement, risking similarly debilitating outcomes.

The challenge of corruption cuts deeply across the security sector. For example, countless police turn the other way at checkpoints, and customs officials turn the other way at borders – all in exchange for bribes. This paves the way for drug cartels, terrorists, and other international security threats.

Consider that in the wake of the Westgate attack in Kenya, police arrested and detained suspected Al Shabab terrorists. But according to Human Rights Watch, suspects could quickly buy their release by paying a bribe of approximately $100.

In this way, corruption can enable local threats that have broader implications for security around the globe.

Corruption also complicates post-conflict peacebuilding, because those who profited from the war economy are best placed to win political power and, through corruption, continue serving their narrow interests. Ukraine provides another illustration of how corruption can both increase instability risks and cripple the state’s ability to respond to those risks.

The Maidan Movement was driven in part by resentment of a kleptocratic regime parading around in democratic trappings. Corruption had drained service delivery, scared off investment, and crippled the justice system. Businesses and even foreign countries had for years bought and bribed their way into political influence over Ukrainian legislative and procurement decisions.

And as public frustration boiled, Russian interference escalated.

Security institutions that were needed to fend off Russian aggression struggled to mount an adequate defense. They had been weakened by years of graft, rendering them ineffective.

Nigeria and Ukraine are not just cautionary tales – they are wakeup calls for the international community. That is why our embassies in two dozen countries in central and Eastern Europe are currently drafting action plans for supporting and cooperating on anti-corruption reform in their host country.

Corruption is not just an affront to American values; Left unaddressed, corruption in distant lands can cut to the heart of our national security. Yet I’m unaware of any security organizations that systematically monitor corruption. The international community is only starting to grapple with the seriousness of corruption’s destabilizing security impact.

Preventing and Responding to Corruption

So that’s the disaggregation of three different impacts of corruption, and it’s clear that the challenge is extremely important. It’s also clear that addressing this challenge comprehensively is really tough. I think it’s worth underscoring both the range of tools that we have and some of the concrete impact that we can see as a result of our efforts.

At the State Department, our Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement works on corruption along with bureaus that handle economics, energy, and human rights, and together State collaborates with USAID, Treasury, the Department of Justice, Interior, and Commerce – each of which brings specialized tools to the table.

  • We leverage international conventions, pressing governments to implement the commitments they have made to combatting corruption.
  • We include anti-corruption provisions in free trade agreements and apply financial sanctions to protect U.S. markets from the stability and liability risks of harboring the proceeds of corruption.
  • We enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which since 2009 has generated around $3 billion in penalties and convictions against more than 50 individuals, including high-level executives.
  • At the State Department, we use our visa sanction authority in a nonpolitical manner to deny entry to corrupt leaders. Recently, we denied visas to six Hungarian officials and their cronies due to corruption. This action also bolstered public concern, and on November 9th, the streets of Budapest filled with 10,000 protesters who called for the resignation of corrupt public officials.
  • We provide at least $600 million dollars a year to build the capacity of foreign governments to combat corruption, largely through strengthening law enforcement mechanisms.
  • We support independent civil society organizations so that they can press their governments to prevent and combat corruption, such as the Czech Republic, where 20 NGOs banded together to form an anti-corruption coalition, supported in part by a grant from the U.S. Embassy.
  • The United States is co-chairing the G-20 Anti-Corruption Working Group with Turkey, in an effort to drive a “race to the top” on issues like beneficial ownership, which would require companies to identify the actual person who owns or controls them, in line with the President’s recent proposed legislation on beneficial ownership.

We are also proud to have helped launch the Open Government Partnership in September 2011, bringing global civil society and governments from 65 countries together to strengthen their internal, vertical relationships of accountability between governments and their citizenry at home.

  • Two-thirds of these countries have included commitments to anti-corruption or whistleblower protection in the latest round of OGP National Action Plans, each of which were developed through a consultative process between governments and civil society.
  • And today we are helping prevent corruption in the oil, gas, and mining sectors by supporting the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and implementing our own commitments domestically.

Our efforts have impact.

  • We’ve supported the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, and three months ago, both the Director and Deputy Director of the Guatemalan Penitentiary System were arrested for receiving bribes in return for prisoner transfers. They later were charged with money laundering and corruption.
  • In Nigeria and Sierra Leone, we are supporting civil society and government leaders to participate in civic code-a-thon events that have generated new open government tools, such as an infographic in Nigeria that clearly explained, in simple terms, the proposed federal budget.
  • And in the country of Georgia, the government is following through on its OGP commitments to combat corruption by making political party financing transparent and developing an online system for government procurement.

These are just a few examples of the impact we are able to have. But given the complexity and entrenchment of corruption in many countries, the United States must become more focused, more creative, and more collaborative as we continue working to enhance our anti-corruption impact.

First, what does it mean to become more focused?

In the past year, the United States government has developed interagency mechanisms to foster better unity of effort across the different entities that are working on anti-corruption efforts so that we can come together to determine where we should be better prioritizing our anti-corruption resources toward countries where corruption poses a risk to U.S. interests, and where we are likely to have impact.

Applying this prioritized approach will require integrating a range of tools targeted at a range of actors – a comprehensive “soup-to-nuts” approach that hits enough nodes of corruption to generate real momentum for action.

For instance, in areas of Central America, one cannot just address police corruption without also looking at corruption in other elements of the justice system such as judges and prisons  and even politics.

Otherwise, “islands of integrity” that we build up in the police force will quickly be washed away by the tide of corruption in other parts of the ecosystem.

Applying a comprehensive approach to focus countries means continuing to mainstream consideration of corruption into all of our development and security programming, so that what we don’t necessarily identify as anti-corruption efforts are nonetheless reinforcing efforts that go by the name of anti-corruption. This approach was first laid out in USAID’s 2005 Anticorruption Strategy. We can do more to better implement that.

In Mozambique, USAID’s health program is increasing access to clean water – and as an example of what it means to layer your anti-corruption efforts, they are simultaneously building up civil society by putting community groups in charge of governing the wells. While it does not guarantee that there cannot be corruption, residents are better equipped to deliver community goods.

We will continue pressing for anti-corruption synergies across our efforts, including expanding consideration of corruption in our security partnerships.

Second, what does it mean to adopt creative approaches to anti-corruption? First, you have to tailor them to the local context. You can’t just take best practices and drop them into point B because they worked in point A. You also need to emphasize anti-corruption law enforcement by working on the prevention pieces, so that you’re not just relying on after-the-fact prosecution.

So, as you think about what it means to prevent corrupt acts in the broader web of commerce and government, consider such questions as what would make a DMV employee decide not to demand “a little extra” in exchange for a driver’s license?

It might be streamlining the process of getting a license, so there are fewer discretionary transactions to be tampered with in the first place. Estonia has pioneered this model, developing e-governance tools that made government operations more transparent and accountable to civil society, business the media and, most importantly, Estonian citizens.

Or creativity might demand that public employees are adequately compensated for their work at the outset.

If they can make ends meet from their salaries, they are less likely to demand a bribe.

But boosting transparency remains the cornerstone of prevention – helping people understand what the actual rules are so that they cannot be misled between what is actually a real fee, and what is a bribe demanded on the spot.

In Nepal, a wiki platform supported by the NGO the Accountability Lab crowd-sources information on topics like how to get a birth certificate or driver’s license to help ensure that Nepalis can demand proper procedures as they enter into transactions, and that government employees know they will be held accountable if they break the rules.

Websites like I_Paid_A_Bribe.com go one step further – enabling citizens in India to shed light on first-hand experiences of corruption to help track graft at local agencies.

Simple, transparent, procedures have a dual benefit. Not only dothey make government more efficient, they restrict opportunities for corruption.

Third, way in which I think the U.S. government will continue to evolve its anti-corruption efforts is through partnerships, both inside and outside government.

Tackling corruption demands support from civil society as well as multilateral partners simply because the problem is so complex and the solutions must be so long term. Therefore even as we work to boost anti-corruption programming funds at State and USAID, we are exploring how to increase collaboration with the private sector and multilateral development banks to expand our impact.

Also, in the coming year we plan to launch experimental “Anti-Corruption University” – an initiative that will involve exchanges between our diplomats and universities and NGOs around the world.

Because ultimately, no one nation can do this work alone.

All in all, we have a diverse toolkit that we are striving to apply more strategically. Yet, the biggest factor in the success or failure of U.S. efforts remains something largely out of our control, and that is the extent to which foreign government officials choose to support increased accountability or work to block it.

In the end, it remains a question of political will. Vice President Biden recently asked the question why Plan Colombia worked. He concluded that it was not just because the United States invested $9 billion dollars in it – or because Colombia invested $36 billion dollars in it. More fundamentally, it was about the political will that Colombia invested in that process, which included more transparent and accountable governance.

Political will means that those brought up on anti-corruption charges are the biggest violators, not just the biggest political rivals. The success of anti-corruption efforts in countries like China depends on ensuring that these efforts do not become politicized.

The central role of political will to the anti-corruption fight explains why it is so critical now to identify and support political openings when they emerge.

New leaders elected on a platform of anti-corruption reform can change the tide if they make good on their commitments, such as President Ghani in Aghanistan, President Jokowi in Indonesia, Prime Minister Modi in India. We will assess whether or not their efforts in office will meet their campaign pledges to boldly address corruption.

We must accelerate our partnerships with these reform-minded leaders when these strategic windows of opportunity open up.

The United States cannot create or control reformist leadership, but we can be ready to support it on behalf of people whose lives will be profoundly affected by the restoration of trust, efficiency, and justice.


Since the establishment of International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, many international fora have emerged and many commitments have been made to fight graft.

The UN Convention Against Corruption now encompasses 173 countries.

Regional bodies like the African Union have affirmed the UN’s standards in conventions of their own.

In the Americas, the OAS’ peer review mechanism for the world’s first anti-corruption convention, the Inter American Convention Against Corruption, is now well regarded and respected.

Indeed, we have near-universal consensus on the norms for how governments should control corruption.

That is a very important step.

But it is easy to become self-congratulatory about laws and words.

The problem before us is addressing the implementation gap in applying these.

The impact of corruption on our own national security and the security of civilians around the world calls us to act. The United States will work with likeminded partners toward a more focused, creative, and collaborative approach to combating corruption.

I’d like to end with an adage from Liberia that has actually emerged in response to the description of collective action against corruption, and it sums up the international challenge well:

“One straw of a broom can easily snap when trying to clean up the dirt; but when all the straws of the broom work together, we can clean the house.”

Thank you for being here. I’ll now turn to Sarah Chayes and we can open the floor up for questions.

Helen Clark: Speech at the Global Landscapes Forum UN Climate Change Conference – COP20, Lima, Peru

07 Dec 2014

I thank the organizers of the Global Landscapes Forum – the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), UNEP, FAO, and Peru’s Ministries of the Environment and Agriculture – for inviting me to speak this morning.

The focus of this Forum is of high relevance to the global effort to tackle climate change, and to achieve sustainable development overall.

The world has witnessed significant progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were launched at the beginning of this century, including on some of the environmental targets set in the MDGs.

The goal of halving poverty has been met five years ahead of schedule; on average around the world, gender parity in primary education has been achieved and most children now enroll in a primary school; and levels of infant and child mortality have decreased significantly. Advances have been made in the fight against HIV, malaria, and TB.

On MDG7 on ensuring environmental sustainability, the target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of water was met five years ahead of schedule. The coverage of protected areas is growing – it now stands at 14.6 per cent of terrestrial areas and 9.7 per cent of coastal marine areas worldwide. This helps safeguard biodiversity and the essential services our planet’s natural ecosystems provide. As well, since the adoption of the Montreal Protocol, there has been a reduction of over 98 per cent in the consumption of ozone-depleting substances.

Yet, climate change is undermining the gains made, with the poorest and most vulnerable people most exposed to the more frequent and severe droughts and major storms which our world is experiencing.

With nearly one third of global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions coming from farming, forestry, and livestock production, achieving sustainable landscapes is critical to climate change mitigation.

Sustainable landscapes are also essential for climate change adaptation and for sustainable development in general, as they safeguard and deliver a wide range of social, cultural, environmental, and economic benefits – including water and energy which underpin food security.

It is therefore encouraging to see that key elements of sustainable landscapes feature among the seventeen goals and 169 targets proposed by the General Assembly’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. These include the protection, restoration, and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems; sustainable management of forests; reversing land degradation; and halting biodiversity loss.

At the Climate Summit in New York hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September, sustainable agriculture and forest protection were recognized as critical components of the fight against climate change. The clear message was that without decisive action on land-use, through sustainable agriculture and efforts to curb deforestation and restore forests, global warming will not be limited to two degrees Celsius.

The good news is that a wide range of stakeholders came together at the September Climate Summit to back the New York Declaration on Forests, and to make specific and ambitious commitments to action on forest protection.

I wish to acknowledge Paul Polman, Unilever’s CEO, and other CEOs in the private sector, whose remarkable leadership on land-use and forests has been a ‘game changer’ in this area.

The New York Declaration on Forests has been cited as “the key outcome of the Climate Summit”. 175 entities, including developing and developed countries, states and provinces; major companies; indigenous leaders; and civil society organizations committed to halving deforestation by 2020, and to ending it by 2030. They also committed to restoring 350 million hectares of forests – an area roughly equivalent to the size of India. Governments who endorsed the Declaration committed to “Support and help meet the private sector goal of eliminating deforestation from the production of agricultural commodities such as palm oil, soy, paper and beef products by no later than 2020, recognizing that many companies have even more ambitious targets.”

If the commitments made in the Declaration are met, they would produce emission reductions equivalent to removing all the cars currently on the world’s roads.

In the past year, a number of forest countries have made substantial progress on developing and implementing their forest strategies, and their actions are increasingly supported by international finance. As well, parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded the Warsaw Framework on REDD+; and more than fifty major companies have made substantial commitments to eliminating deforestation from their supply chains.

At the Climate Summit, leaders from various sectors built upon that progress by coming forward with individual and collective commitments to bring about change.

• Private sector leaders set out what their sectors can contribute to stopping deforestation, and what would help them to do that. Companies made new and expanded commitments on achieving deforestation-free supply chains.

• Forest countries committed to reduce deforestation and/or restore degraded lands.

• A number of donor countries voiced their support for the inclusion of REDD+ in the new global climate change agreement which is to enter into force by 2020. Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom jointly committed to scaling up results-based finance for REDD+, beginning with funding for twenty major new programmes by 2016.

• Several of the largest forest commodity importing countries committed to new procurement policies which encourage deforestation-free supply chains.

• The Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force, a grouping of 26 states and provinces covering a quarter of all tropical forests, committed to reducing deforestation in their jurisdictions by eighty per cent by 2020 if supported by large-scale results-based payments.

At the Summit, the critical role of indigenous peoples in forest protection was fully recognized. A global coalition of indigenous peoples pledged to put their weight behind the protection of hundreds of millions of hectares of tropical forests across the Amazon and Congo Basins, Indonesia, and Mesoamerica in the service of climate mitigation and adaptation.

While much work remains to be done, the strong expressions of action and co-operation on forests at the Climate Summit was inspirational. The spirit of partnership shown in reaching the New York Declaration on Forests bodes well for continued progress, and it must be nurtured if our forests are to survive.

The progress made over the past year gives a clear sense of the steps which need to be taken on forest issues between now and next year’s Paris UNFCCC Conference of Parties:

1. Developing forest countries can put forward nationally-determined mitigation contributions which include ambitious goals and policies to reduce forest loss and increase reforestation. They could identify how much they can achieve unilaterally, and how much more they could achieve with international support. They should continue to implement and enforce land use reforms which will enable them to develop without destroying forests. This will take strong political will and leadership, and the broader international community needs to support these efforts.

2. Advanced economies must deliver large scale economic incentives for forest protection, particularly through REDD+, in the context of the new climate agreement. 2014 was the year in which many in the private sector stepped up to tackle deforestation. 2015 needs to be the year when governments step up to deliver on the promise of REDD+, on the design of which they have worked so hard over the last seven years.

3. The private sector must eliminate deforestation from its supply chains without delay. This means expanding existing sustainability commitments to cover a wider range of commodities, and bringing more companies in both developed and developing countries on board.

4. Indigenous peoples must be empowered to continue to play their vital role in protecting forests. Governments must formalize and protect their rights, and the private sector must respect their right to give or withhold free, prior, and informed consent. We must see conflicts resolved in a manner consistent with good governance, equity, and respect for human rights.

The UN system is deeply committed to building on the progress of the past year, and to advancing the forests and landscape agendas – in particular through its mandate to support developing countries.

At UNDP, we will work closely with our UN partners in the UN-REDD Program – FAO and UNEP, as well as with the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility. We will continue working with Paul Polman and others in the powerful multi-sectoral coalition which came together for the Climate Summit. We want to help build on the momentum of the New York Declaration on Forests, and to carry the strong partnerships formed around it through to the Paris COP and beyond.

Let me conclude by emphasizing what we all know: that a two degree climate change scenario is not possible without making real progress on sustainable landscapes, including forests.

The co-operation and commitment of leading actors represented here at this Forum is so critical for success. At UNDP we are pleased to be a partner with you on this journey.

Q&A: How FAO and partners are working to help countries explore sustainable bioenergy development

Photo: ©FAO/Dhani S. Wibawa

Oil palm seedling in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Through the Global Bioenergy Partnership, FAO is helping countries to better assess the possible risks and benefits of bioenergy. In this interview, Michela Morese of FAO’s energy team talks about recent FAO work in Colombia and Indonesia to test bioenergy sustainability indicators.

Why are developing countries interested in producing biofuels? Shouldn’t they focus on growing food?

The production and use of bioenergy is on the rise in many parts of the world as countries seek to diversify their energy sources while promoting sustainable development.  

Certainly crop production for use in biofuels should not compete with food production or negatively impact food security. But the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive – if developed in the right way, a healthy biofuels sector can make important contributions to a country by improving energy access and food security.

Switching from traditional to modern bioenergy systems can reduce deforestation and free women and children from collecting fuelwood and help reduce illnesses air pollution. It can also cut dependence on imported fossil fuels, improving countries’ energy security as well as their foreign exchange balances. In addition, the production and use of bioenergy can expand access to modern energy services and bring infrastructure such as roads, telecommunications, schools and health centres to poor rural areas. In such areas, bioenergy offers a chance to increase the income of small-scale farmers, alleviating poverty and decreasing the gap between rich and poor. In urban centres, using biofuels in transport can improve air quality.

Are there also risks involved? 

If not sustainably managed, bioenergy development can place extra pressure on biodiversity, scarce water resources and food security. If land use is not well planned and oversight is inadequate, increased deforestation, loss of peatlands and land degradation can occur and lead to an overall negative impact on climate change. Where land tenure is insecure, communities can be displaced and lose access to land and other natural resources.

What are the sustainability indicators that FAO and GBEP have developed and how can they be used?

The Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) has produced a set of twenty-four indicators for the assessment and monitoring of bioenergy sustainability at the national level. These indicators address all types of biofuels (e.g. ethanol, biodiesel, biogas) for electricity, heat and transport. FAO has provided substantial technical inputs to this work, and is also among the founding members of the Partnership and hosts the Secretariat in Rome. The indicators are intended to inform policy-makers about the environmental, social and economic aspects of the bioenergy sector in their country and guide them towards policies that foster sustainable development. Measured over time, the indicators will show progress towards or away from a nationally defined sustainable development path.

The GBEP indicators are unique in that they are a product of the only multilateral initiative that has built consensus on the sustainable production and use of bioenergy among a wide range of national governments (fifty) and international organizations (twenty-six). 

GBEP recently wrapped up a project applying the indicators in Colombia and Indonesia. What were the lessons learned?

FAO tested the GBEP indicators in Colombia and Indonesia, with support from the International Climate Initiative (ICI) of the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Natural Resource, and Nuclear Safety of Germany. 

The testing confirmed the high relevance of the environmental, social and economic issues addressed by the GBEP sustainability indicators for bioenergy. It also showed the importance of strengthening the capacity of developing countries to monitor the sustainability of bioenergy, especially with regard to complex issues such as greenhouse gas emissions and food security, as was done in the context of this project through a series of trainings and workshops.

Can you give us an example of activities carried out during this project? 

In order to support the future monitoring of the effects of bioenergy production and use on food supply and prices, two trainings were carried out in Indonesia using the Aglink-Cosimo model, which offers a way to assess the impacts of biofuel production on agricultural and food markets, as well as a way to evaluate future biofuel scenarios linked to different policies and targets.

The monitoring and evaluation of the sustainability of this sector should be done in a context of multi-stakeholder dialogue. Both in Colombia and Indonesia the project stimulated and facilitated dialogue across all relevant ministries and other key stakeholders,  like producers’ organizations. Regional workshops were organized in both countries in order to foster the exchange of information and experiences among countries in the respective regions.

Has sustainability been an issue there? 

Yes, the testing in Colombia and Indonesia provided interesting preliminary insights into the sustainability of the bioenergy sector in these two countries. So far bioenergy production and use has not triggered significant impacts on the domestic supply and price of the main food basket items in either country. This might change if more ambitious biofuel targets are put in place, such as those currently under consideration in Indonesia. At the same time, it is recommended to pay more attention in both countries to the land-use changes associated with the expansion of key bioenergy feedstocks (e.g. oil palm), which may have negative repercussions on environmental and social sustainability. If conversion of land with high carbon stocks is avoided, the displacement of fossil fuels with bioenergy can lead to important GHG emission reductions.

How can this experience be replicated elsewhere, and what is next for the GBEP?

Following the positive outcomes of the project in Colombia and Indonesia, FAO is exploring with the donor the opportunity to support the implementation of the GBEP indicators in four additional countries: Ethiopia and Kenya, under UNEP’s coordination; and Paraguay and Vietnam, under FAO’s coordination. The lessons learnt from the implementation of the indicators in these and other countries will then be shared with the GBEP community and used to improve the practicality of the indicators, so as to facilitate their widespread use.

GBEP is also promoting capacity building for sustainable bioenergy development, by fostering exchange of information, skills and technologies through bilateral and multilateral collaboration. In the context of this work, a Bioenergy Week is organized every year in a different continent. The goal of this initiative is to bring together relevant stakeholders in order to discuss specific bioenergy-related priorities and challenges faced by the countries in the region. In 2014, the Bioenergy week took place in Mozambique, with the links between bioenergy and food security as one of the main topics being discussed.

8 December 2014