PARLIAMENT has been called upon to craft legislation on carbon trading as a climate change mitigation measure and to protect environmental conservation projects like Redd+ from corruption.
By VENERANDA LANGA
The calls were made during a Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) consultative workshop on the implementation of the corruption risk assessment in the Redd+ sector, which they said was prone to corruption to the detriment of communities who were affected by deforestation and carbon emissions from cutting down of trees.
Redd+ is an international project that seeks to reward communities for conserving their forests.
University of Zimbabwe researcher in the Centre for Applied Social Sciences Steve Mutema said there was need for accountability in the control of natural resources.
“The law will ensure there is monitoring and transparency in the control of our natural resources and we need it yesterday because the benefits are that we will have accountability,” Mutema said.
“The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act also needs to be amended to ensure Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOTs) encompass Redd+ issues,” he said.
Mutema said in implementing Redd+ projects and policy formulation for climate change issues, communities should be consulted to ensure they benefited.
“Rural District Councils end up taking the lion’s share of the benefits from carbon credits while communities benefit nothing. For example, a research we did on the Kariba Redd+ project revealed the RDC was taking 30% of the benefits while the community got 20%. Communities need to develop through their natural resources,” he said.
TIZ programmes officer on the Redd+ desk Frank Mpahlo said Redd+ projects involved exchange of huge amounts of money in the sale of carbon credits, adding TIZ was undertaking research studies to find out whether there could be any form of abuse of the project.
“Corruption in Redd+ projects can happen through exchange of money by investors and communities. Case studies from other countries like Kenya, Ghana and Zambia on such projects revealed public officials received bribes to stop declaration of the correct value of carbon credits. Zimbabwe has been ranked 154 out of 179 most corrupt countries and there is no way this sector can be immune from corruption,” Mpahlo said.
TIZ programmes officer Farai Mutondoro said their study will assess gaps in Redd+ system that can fuel corruption, lack of accountability, monopoly by policy makers, and political powers competing for control of natural resources.