TNRC Guide Corruption Risks and Anti-Corruption Responses in Sustainable Livelihood Interventions | Module Three

Corruption risks and anti-corruption responses in sustainable livelihood interventions

This TNRC Guide shares practical knowledge for program designers and implementers to reduce corruption’s impact on conservation.

Module Three Benefit sharing from protected areas and other effective conservation measures: Corruption risks and responses

Protected areas (PAs) and other effective conservation measures (OECMs), the latter by intention and design, can take myriad forms. This guidance is intended to apply to any designated geographical area on the land or sea that:
  1. Is governed by formal or informal rules;
  2. Has conservation as the primary goal or as a significant outcome; and
  3. Shares benefits with stakeholders or communities involved in or affected by the area’s conservation (Alves-Pinto et al. 2021; Morgera and Tsioumani 2010).

This broad definition intends to include any types of benefits, be they tangible or intangible, financial or non-monetary.[1] Similarly, this guidance should be relevant to many types of governing arrangements, from government to private ownership, from co-ownership and co-management to community conservation enterprises (CCEs).

The terms PAs and OECMs are used interchangeably, often shortened in this document to simply “areas.”

PAs and OECMs are fundamental to biodiversity. Often shortened to “30x30,” the draft Global Biodiversity Framework’s third targetcalls for at least 30 percent of land and seascapes to be conserved via PAs or OECMs. At the same time, the Framework also recognizes the importance of sustainable use of resources and sharing the benefits of conservation. Target 9 is to “Ensure benefits, including nutrition, food security, medicines, and livelihoods for people especially for the most vulnerable through sustainable management of wild terrestrial, freshwater and marine species and protecting customary sustainable use by indigenous peoples and local communities.”

30x30 and sustainable use and benefit sharing should reinforce one another (WWF 2021a). But various factors can undermine one or the other or convert their mutually beneficial dependence to a competition of mutual exclusion. Corruption is one of those factors.

  • The benefits from conservation (or from “defecting” and trying to privately capture a public good) can incentivize the corruption.
  • The necessary formal or informal rules for conservation, and the discretion and power necessary to enforce them, create the opportunity to act corruptly.
  • And various dynamics, from historical patterns of exclusion and distrust to the potential for PA and OECM benefit sharing initiatives to replicate those patterns, can rationalize that corrupt action.

For manageability, this module focuses on the two high-level components that are likely relevant to any PA or OECM initiative:

  • the governance and management of the area;
  • and the management and sharing of benefits, impacts, and costs resulting from that area.

Each component has a definition; possible corruption risks with examples; and anti-corruption responses that can be considered to reduce those risks.

Key PA/OECM resources

  • The guidelines for tourism partnerships and concessions for protected areas in Spenceley et al. (2017)
  • The IUCN guide for governance of protected areas (Borrini-Feyerabend et al. 2013) and the recommendations on participation and engagement in PA / OECM management in Dovers et al. (2015)
  • The frameworks and lessons on holistic human-wildlife conflict (HWC) mitigation in Gross et al. (2021) and on insurance and compensation in Leslie et al. (2019) and Wilson-Holt and Steele (2019)
  • The tools, decision guidance, method manuals, and supplements for assessing social impacts, governance, and equity in conserved areas in Booker (n.d.), Franks et al. (2018), Franks and Pinto (2020), and Franks and Small (2021)
  • The ICCA toolkit to support conservation by indigenous peoples and local communities (Corrigan and Hay-Edie 2013)
  • These TNRC overviews of the broad corruption risks in the timber, fisheries, and wildlife sectors
  • The ICCA Consortium’s “DOs and DON’Ts,” which implementers considering any of the potential responses in this module should closely follow

Area governance and management

To be effective, any area-based conservation measure requires some level of restriction. Access may be restricted to certain groups or certain times, harvesting may be limited to certain species or amounts, or particular activities on holdings may be prohibited or required. “Accordingly, the management of OECMs should include “effective means” of control of activities that could impact biodiversity, whether through legal measures or other effective means (such as customary laws or binding agreements with the landowners)” (Marnewick et al. 2020).

These restrictions create, and in many ways simply are, power; the power to design restrictions, the discretion to interpret them, and the authority to enforce them. Because someone has to be entrusted with that power, there is the opportunity for corruption (Tacconi and Williams 2020).

Benefit sharing and management of costs and impacts

Benefit sharing is a key component of equitable PA and OECM governance (Zafra-Calvo et al. 2017). Mechanisms must “be in place to assess the economic and socio-cultural costs, benefits and impacts arising from the establishment and management of protected areas, and to share those equitably, in particular with indigenous peoples and local communities” (Borrini-Feyerabend et al. 2013). Such costs, benefits, and impacts can be quite large, unevenly distributed, and complicated to control and understand. This size and complexity create an incentive and opportunity for corruption. This is especially likely to be true in contexts where trying to capture a disproportionate amount of benefits or foist costs onto others are accepted or expected behaviors, or where corrupt behaviors are a functional necessity within the system (Khan et al. 2019, Marquette and Peiffer 2021).

PA and OECM annex: Miradi model results chain

In the graphic below, the corruption risks discussed above are mapped onto the generic Linked Enterprises and Alternative Livelihood results chain from the Conservation Action & Measures Library. A more advanced results chain is available here and via Miradi Share that illustrates where each of the anti-corruption responses may be integrated into a typical PA/OECM benefit sharing initiative.

[1] Note that while access to an area (for economic, social, or cultural reasons) is considered as a benefit, this guidance does not apply to the broader enjoyment of ecosystem services that a PA/OECM may provide (Snyman and Bricker 2019). The payment for ecosystem services module in this guidance covers that topic.