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Integrating corruption considerations into Nationally Determined Contributions

Insights from Colombia’s climate adaptation efforts at the local level

Colombia’s Nationally Determined Contributions have placed a great deal of responsibility on municipal governments to deliver adaptation and mitigation responses to climate change. However, flawed models of participation – and an ongoing default towards ‘grey’ infrastructure – invite corruption into the process, and leave local governments poorly equipped to deal with the enormity of climate change. This paper recommends ways forward for national and local government, and every level of decision making.

17 November 2022
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Integrating corruption considerations into Nationally Determined Contributions

Main points

  • Local governments are a vital link in the chain of climate change adaptation and mitigation action. They are the ultimate level at which climate impacts, such as natural hazards, are experienced, and they can be an effective level at which to tackle them.
  • Colombia’s latest Nationally Determined Contribution devolved many tasks and responsibilities to subnational and municipal governments. Among the sectors Colombia has prioritised in its NDC, the most vulnerable to corruption are environment, transport, and water and sanitation.
  • Nationally Determined Contributions can open the door for corruption at the local level, including through flawed models of participation and a restricted civic space, and poor conditions for whistleblowing, reporting and protection.
  • Local governments in Colombia and elsewhere are simply not equipped to meet their responsibilities under the NDCs, or to plan and implement climate-related policies. They lack institutional and financial capacity, and face enormous external challenges.
  • Deforestation is a significant issue for local government in Colombia, creating a cycle of corruption. Organised criminals, officials and others facilitate deforestation, and the militarised response of the central government brings additional problems.
  • Specific recommendations for national government, local government, private sector and donors involve improving transparency, dialogue, inclusion and participation at every level of decision making as critical ways of reducing corruption.
  • ‘Grey’ (physical) infrastructure should not be the default mode for adaptation schemes. They rely on materials and construction processes that are open to corrupt actors. Nature-based solutions should be preferred, as they can be more effective, and less prone to corruption.

Cite this publication

Ceballos Oviedo, J.; (2022) Integrating corruption considerations into Nationally Determined Contributions. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2022:15)

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About the author

Juan Camilo Ceballos Oviedo

Juan Camilo Ceballos is a political scientist working on the intersection between governance issues and politics, with a focus on subnational governments and developing countries. Ceballos has served various civil society organisations and academic institutions in the anti-corruption space, including National University of Colombia’s Development Research Center, Transparency International Colombia, Mexico’s Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano, Humboldt University of Berlin, and the International Anti-Corruption Academy. He holds a BA (Hon.) in Politics and International Relations from Nueva Granada Military University, Colombia, and an MA in National and International Administration and Policy from the University of Potsdam, Germany.


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