TNRC Guidance | Corruption as an indirect threat to conservation

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Targeting Natural Resource Corruption

Harnessing knowledge, generating evidence, and supporting innovative policy and practice for more effective anti-corruption programming

Corruption as an indirect threat to conservation

The Conservation Measures Partnership’s (CMP) “Direct Threats Classification” is a foundational tool for cross-field and cross-organizational collaboration in conservation. The Direct Threats provide a shared language for understanding and discussing the main threats to conservation and the actions conservation actors take to address those threats. Using the Direct Threats Classification, conservation teams can “scan these classifications and see if they recognize any threats that they may be overlooking in their analysis of the conditions at their site or get ideas for actions that they might take.”

Direct threats, in the CMP lexicon, are human activities that immediately degrade one or more conservation targets. Identifying the critical direct threats is Step 1C of the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation, followed by Step 1D in which practitioners further identify the indirect threats that are the factors driving, enabling, or causing the direct threat. These factors are often the entry points conservationists target as part of their programming.

Corruption is an indirect threat: a driver, enabler, and cause of conservation degradation. While targeting natural resource corruption may not always be a viable entry point for conservationists, understanding how corruption may be contributing to a direct threat is crucial to strategy selection. Corruption may explain why previous strategies failed or implicitly constrain the feasibility of new strategies.

This guide builds on the Direct Threats Classification to show how, for each direct threat, corruption may manifest as an indirect threat. In the same spirit as the Direct Threats Classification, practitioners can use this simple tool to see if they recognize any corruption dynamics they may be overlooking in their situation analysis. If teams identify corruption as a contributing factor, they can then use the following resources to inform their responses.

Note on classification versions


This TNRC guide used Threats Version 4.0 Alpha, provided by the Conservation Measures Partnership, which was the most recent version available at the time of publication. The consultation and revision process for Version 4.0 began in 2022 and was expected to end in 2024. The final Version 4.0 was not expected to differ substantially in terms of the content of this guide, so any corruption-related indirect risks identified by using this tool should map easily to the final Version 4.0.