February 29, 2012
Forest in Tanzania. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
"We have had an issue with fraud in two programs in Tanzania and when we had a basis for acting, there was a firm response. We believe this is what we owe our many honest, committed staff and our donors and supporters," Phil Dickie with WWF-International told mongabay.com. "We are continuing to investigate and have installed an interim management team."
In response to the WWF announcement the Norwegian government has suspended funding for the time being to the projects. The first project, allocated around $4.5 million, was working to empower civil society organizations in order "to improve the contribution of fisheries, forestry and wildlife to national economic growth, poverty reduction and people's livelihoods," according to the WWF website.
The second program, allocated around $2.5 million, would help monitor carbon stocks in Tanzanian forests for REDD.
WWF has estimated that around $85,000 may have been misappropriated, but is currently waiting on the investigation. Following the discovery, eight employees were let go and one resigned.
"The [Norwegian] Embassy was informed by WWF in December 2011 regarding suspected corruption and irregularities in the implementation of WWF financial policies in the use of Norwegian project funds, and the intention of WWF to conduct investigations to resolve the matter," Næss Inger with the Norwegian Embassy told mongabay.com "In response, the Embassy suspended all further disbursements to the two projects. WWF have engaged Ernst & Young to conduct an independent investigation of these irregularities and the Embassy is awaiting receipt of the report before making any further decisions, in line with our policy of zero tolerance to corruption."
The Norwegian government says WWF will be responsible for paying back to the government whatever funds have gone missing, but the setback will not stop REDD projects in Tanzania or elsewhere.
"Norway is committed to assisting countries like Tanzania prepare for a future international REDD+ mechanism and expect all our partners to demonstrate good levels of governance in the management of programs/projects," Inger said adding that, "while this kind of incident is regrettable it should not prevent the many other valuable initiatives from progressing for the overall benefit of Tanzania and Tanzanians. As such, we will continue to support not only Tanzania but also global efforts to address climate change."
Colombian community leader talks about REDD
(02/21/2012) A pioneering project to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in a former conflict zone in Colombia has won gold certification under the Climate, Community, and Biodiversity (CCB) standard. The accreditation will help local communities access carbon finance in their efforts to safeguard biologically-rich forests. The project is located in Colombia's Darien region, near the border with Panama. The area is part of the Chocó, the rainforest ecosystem that runs along the Pacific coast of Colombia and Ecuador but has been heavily affected in places by deforestation. Everildys Cordoba is the project's coordinator on the community side. Cordoba grew up in Penaloza, a small town not far from the Caribbean coast of Colombia and the country's border with Panama. But in 1998, she was forcibly displaced by armed actors. Today, she has returned to her land to lead the project.
Rainforests need massive finance, but REDD must be well-designed to succeed
(01/17/2012) A proposed mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by protecting tropical forests has evolved considerably since it started to gain momentum during the 2005 climate talks in Montreal. Known then as 'avoided deforestation', the concept was simple: pay tropical forest countries to keep their forests standing. Since then, the concept has broadened to include activities beyond strict forest conservation, including reducing logging and fire, protecting carbon-dense peatlands, encouraging better forest management practices in existing forest concessions, and promoting reforestation and afforestation. A prominent voice in the discussion around REDD since its inception is the environmental activist group Greenpeace. Mongabay recently caught up with Roman Czebiniak, Greenpeace International's Political Advisor on Climate Change and Forests, for an update on the organization's position on REDD as well as recent developments in the forest carbon policy arena.
REDD advances—slowly—in Durban
(12/15/2011) A program proposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and degradation made mixed progress during climate talks in Durban. Significant questions remain about financing and safeguards to protect against abuse, say forestry experts. REDD+ aims to reduce deforestation, forest degradation, and peatland destruction in tropical countries. Here, emissions from land use often exceed emissions from transportation and electricity generation. Under the program, industrialized nations would fund conservation projects and improved forest management. While REDD+ offers the potential to simultaneously reduce emissions, conserve biodiversity, maintain other ecosystem services, and help alleviate rural poverty, concerns over potential adverse impacts have plagued the program since its conception.