For information only – not an official document

12 December 2023

Climate change, crimes that affect the environment and corruption

In the fight against climate change, billions of dollars are being invested worldwide in measures to mitigate its negative impacts and help societies adapt to its consequences. Whenever large sums of money are involved, there is a heightened risk of funds being lost due to corruption. With the growing emphasis on climate interventions, particularly the transition to green energy, there is a significant increase in investments in this sector. This surge in financial inflows elevates the risk of corruption, requiring vigilant oversight and robust regulatory frameworks to ensure transparency and ethical practices.

If these funds are diverted by corrupt actors, this prevents governments from effectively tackling environmental problems and achieving international climate goals. Robust anti-corruption tools and strategies are essential to ensure that climate funds achieve their intended impact. Anti-corruption tools such as control mechanisms assure the appropriate use of climate funds and contribute to the overarching goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as set out in the Paris Agreement.

Climate finance stands out as a specialized form of funding designed to tackle the challenges of climate change. Serving as a global wealth distribution mechanism, it uniquely emphasizes long-term sustainability and involves a blend of public and private financing. Some of these funds are being used for mitigation such as reducing emissions while other funds are used to help societies adapt to the consequences of climate change. An international framework like the United Nations Convention against Corruption is essential to prevent corrupt practices from undermining government efforts to achieve international climate goals and secure a sustainable future.

The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ghada Waly, said: “Global efforts to mitigate climate change must include initiatives to combat crimes that affect the environment as well as corruption that enables the exploitation of our planet.”

UNODC spearheads global efforts against corruption

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) plays a pivotal role in providing tools and mechanisms in the fight against corruption within the scope of the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption. Through collaborative efforts with Member States, civil society and the private sector, UNODC strengthens national and international anti-corruption frameworks, including those linked to managing natural resources. This contributes to achieving climate goals. Recently, UNODC started an initiative to address corruption related to climate finance strategies, promoting the ethical and transparent management of funds.

UNODC and the World Bank are exploring the intersections of corruption, climate change, and the green transition. At the 10th session Conference of States Parties to UN Convention against Corruption, they aim to highlight the role of corruption as it relates to critical challenges, including the lack of regulation in carbon trading markets and unclear guidelines governing climate finance.

Exposing the role of corruption in crimes that affect the environment

There are many types of crime that affect the environment, including wildlife trafficking, illegal deforestation and forest degradation, illegal mining of precious metals and stones, waste and trafficking, crimes in the fisheries sector. Corruption enables all such crime and allows criminals to commit, conceal and avoid conviction for their crimes. It further deprives governments of revenue streams and communities of their natural resources and sustainable livelihoods.

The damaging effect of corruption is not limited to financial losses. Corruption fuels biodiversity loss, destruction of natural habitats and, as a result, threatens the existence of endangered species. In addition, corruption weakens the rule of law and impacts human health, security and the economy.

UNODC is actively engaged in preventing and countering corruption as it links to crimes that affect the environment through various programmes and initiatives. Since 2015, UNODC, as guardian of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, is assisting public institutions that manage and protect the environment to bolster their resilience to corruption through corruption risk management. This anti-corruption tool allows public institutions to identify corruption risks and develop mitigation strategies for them considering available resources.

Aiming to provide a holistic approach to the challenge that corruption represents as it links to crimes that affect the environment, UNODC through its Global Programme on Crimes that Affect the Environment provides technical assistance to support countries to enhance national capacity for investigation and prosecution, foster sustainable livelihoods and strengthen legal frameworks. Other support at different stages of the enforcement and criminal justice chains comes from the UNODC-World Customs Organization (WCO) Container Control Programme, the Global Maritime Crime Programme, the Airport Communication Programme and the Global Programme against Money-Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and Financing of Terrorism.

UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly said: “Organized crime poses a major threat to our environment, with organized criminal groups around the world engaging in wildlife trafficking, crimes in the fisheries sector, waste trafficking and illegal mining, among other illicit activities. This exploitation has a serious impact on our ecosystems, on our national security, and on the lives of millions of people who depend on these natural resources for their livelihoods.”

Crimes that affect the environment often transcend borders so international cooperation is vital to be able to effectively combat them. UNODC also collaborates with various UN entities and partners to tackle these environmental crimes, which are recognized as contributors to climate change.

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Further information for the media

Conference website of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

Conference website of the Host Country

Webcasts of the Plenary meetings will be available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish as well as the language spoken on the conference floor.

For further information contact:

Martin Nesirky
Spokesperson for the COSP10
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5676
Email: martin.nesirky[at]

Ahmed Maaty
Speechwriter & Communications
Officer, UNODC
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5244
Email: ahmed.maaty[at]

Follow @UNODC and @UN_Vienna on X & @unitednationsvienna on Instagram for CoSP10 updates.

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