Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo), 14 April 2022 – Corruption is at the core of wildlife and forestry crime. It threatens the effective regulation and monitoring of agriculture, fisheries, extractive industries and other human activities with high environmental impact. As such, it is a key driver of degradation, destruction and over-exploration of forests, as well as wildlife and biodiversity loss.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which has the highest level of biodiversity in Africa, various human activities both legitimate and illegal put pressure on the country’s unique and precious forests, wildlife and environmental resources. Strategies to protect them are undermined by corrupt practices.
In response, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is supporting a series of activities in the DRC and other targeted countries of the Great Lakes region to bring together all public institutions and agencies involved in addressing corruption as a driver of forest, wildlife and biodiversity loss.
To kickstart these initiatives, UNODC organized a national inter-agency workshop from 5 to 7 April 2022 in Kinshasa with 28 participants from the main anti-corruption bodies, criminal justice stakeholders, and conservation and environmental agencies from DRC, as well as the Ministries of Justice, Mining, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock.
UNODC’s regional director for Southern Africa, Jane Marie Ongolo, emphasized during the workshop: “Strong and continuous coordination between agencies involved in the fight against corruption and those involved in conservation and the protection of environment is essential to protecting the abundant natural resources of the DRC”.
Participants identified the main drivers of forest, wildlife and biodiversity loss and their links with corruption in the DRC, and went on to recommend solutions and priority actions to be jointly implemented by all agencies involved. A separate round table of civil society, academia and the media allowed additional issues and solutions to be voiced.
Reflecting on the workshop, Damas Mamba, Director of Inspections at the Ministry of Agriculture, said: “The working method was well-thought through, and the agencies involved well-targeted. We now have a solid basis to continue joint efforts on these complex issues”.
Thierry Mbulamoko, head of DRC’s Agency for Prevention and the Fight against Corruption (APLC) stressed: “While each agency has its own mandates, it is undeniable that pooling efforts is a necessity given the cross-cutting nature of the issues at stake. It is time for us to work together to ensure that our policies contribute to, and do not undermine, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”.
The workshop produced an outcome document listing priority actions related to various human activities, from logging to mining and agriculture, and their links with corruption and other serious forms of crime, such as wildlife and forestry crimes. These will be taken into account in ongoing discussions on the development of a national strategy against wildlife crime and an inter-agency communication platform on this topic.
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This activity was funded by the Kingdom of Belgium and the European Union. The workshop of 5-7 April 2022 was held under the lead of the APLC and with the close involvement of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN).