TNRC Blog Podcast Corruption in Indonesia’s forest sector: No victimless crime

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Targeting Natural Resource Corruption

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Corruption in Indonesia's forest sector: No victimless crime

The Corruption Tapes is a podcast series led by TNRC consortium partner the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre that invites researchers and practitioners to a conversation about some of the most pressing anti-corruption issues in the world of biodiversity and conservation. In a new episode of the Corruption Tapes, Aled Williams, senior adviser at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, is joined by Tom Johnson of the Gecko Project and Philip Jacobson of Mongabay. Both are investigative journalists who have done extensive recent work on corruption in Indonesia’s forest sector. They discuss how deeply entrenched corruption is at the local administrative level, and how secrecy and unseemly links between companies and politicians make it hard for local communities to address suspected foul play.

Although deforestation has declined in recent years, Indonesia still has one of the world's highest deforestation rates. Investigative journalists find that the forest sector has proven notoriously hard to tackle and corruption continues to be the main facilitator. Elaborate schemes include corporate secrecy, corrupt local leaders and shell companies, with the corruption reminiscent of the plot of a soap opera. Investigative journalism shows, for example, how cleaners in a Jakarta slum were unwittingly listed as owners of big companies involved in a deforestation-driving plantation project in Papua.

In this episode, experts discuss how threats to Indonesia's forests have evolved over time along with major political changes. Aled sheds light on how the journalists worked to expose the corruption in practice, using court and licensing documents, and tracking down the people who were involved to interview them. Actions to counteract corruption, including engaging in community activism, sharing information and public debate, and how investigative journalism and continued action from the state can help curb the problem are also discussed.

Listen to the podcast above, or you can read more from U4 here.


Image attribution: © / Jen Guyton / WWF; © Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF; © Georgina Goodwin / Shoot The Earth / WWF-UK; © Hkun Lat / WWF-Aus