Message of UNDP Country Director, Mr. Toshihiro Tanaka

21 Feb 2013

UN-REDD Corruption Risk Assessment (CRA) Results Validation, Cocoon Hotel, Quezon City

Assistant Secretary Daniel Nicer of DENR;
Dean Antonio La Viña of the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG);
Colleagues from government;
Friends from civil society organizations;
Ladies and gentlemen;

Good afternoon.

It is my great pleasure to give the closing message for this very important activity. The event’s result is of great interest to us. Although the UN Development Programme has supported many endeavors on anti- corruption, the focus of this particular undertaking which is anti-corruption in the forestry sector in the context of a new mechanism i.e. REDD+ under the UNFCCC process, is still relatively new. It will certainly provide invaluable insights for the development of rules governing REDD+, particularly in managing risks of leakage from corruption. 

Corruption reportedly pervades many aspects of most societies and the Philippines is not spared from this phenomenon. It is interesting to note that many studies have established that corruption is particularly rampant in the forestry sector. Corruption’s impact is very significant because it involves not only the disappearance of forest goods but also vital ecosystem services like water. Economic loss from forest decimation due to corruption is estimated in the billions of pesos.

With developing countries like the Philippines preparing to participate in global mechanisms like REDD+, it is important to know the risks: when they are likely to materialize and how to mitigate or avoid/prevent their adverse impacts. The stakes are too high for these risks to be ignored or not factored into any agreement governing the ground rules of a global mechanism like REDD+.

As you have discussed during the workshop this morning, corruption risks associated with REDD+ in the Philippines are varied and can manifest in varying degrees. We hope that you were also able to identify appropriate and workable mitigation, including prevention, measures to address these risks. I hope that this has been a useful exercise as we envisioned it to be. The result of this assessment can help the country identify and determine approaches to counter or mitigate these risks. This will not only help the Philippines participate in the REDD+ mechanism optimally but also enable the country to put in place no regret options that will conserve and facilitate the sustainable use of its forests, a very endangered ecosystem which holds much of the country’s biodiversity.  With or without the global REDD+ mechanism, corruption free forest management will redound to sustainable use of the country’s prolific and diverse forests. Enabling frameworks, policies, and mechanisms have been established to address corruption in the forestry sector. However, these are not enough. What is needed is to ensure that these policies and mechanisms work and are effective in addressing or mitigating corruption. We need not reinvent the wheel; only make it spin in the right direction and with the right momentum.

Moreover, the fight against corruption cannot be won without citizens' support, participation, and vigilance. They are critical in generating solutions to many societal problems and implementing them. They can be vanguards in promoting accountabilities and good governance.

I know you had a long and lively discussion on this issue today so I will not drain you further with a long discourse. As a last note, however, sustainable, corruption free management of Philippine forests and other ecosystems holding vast potential for wealth creation might be just the key to addressing the remaining pockets of poverty in this country. Let me end this message, therefore, by a slogan popularized by President Aquino: ” Walang mahirap pag walang corrupt.”

Thank you (Salamat po).