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Lobbying, corruption and climate finance: The stakes for international development

Lobbying is an important aspect of democracy, but in the area of climate-related development finance it is too often dominated by powerful players. Inclusive lobbying is needed, so that a range of voices are heard. This will improve policymaking, increase public confidence in the political system, and support effective climate action.

4 November 2021
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Lobbying, corruption and climate finance: The stakes for international development

Main points

  • Lobbying is important for democracy, for facilitating accountability and creating a way for interest groups to contribute to policies and laws. It is a key part of international development, where inclusive policymaking is a fundamental goal. Yet the sector can be exclusive, with special access afforded to former politicians and paid lobbyists.
  • Corruption can prevent participation of a wider group of stakeholders, which can erode public confidence in policymakers and the decision-making process.
  • As the policy challenge of the century, climate change has created important lobbying opportunities for civil society organisations (CSOs). However, these groups can be outnumbered and out-resourced by larger more powerful players, such as energy corporations
  • Climate action has also become big business – for instance, climate-related development finance (CRDF) to international development programmes totalled US$79.6 billion in 2019. And most CRDF is channelled to procurement and construction, areas notorious for corruption.
  • As climate action is often most urgently needed in countries that are corrupt, there will be challenges advocating for inclusivity in some countries that receive CRDF that also rank high for corruption, such as Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Egypt.
  • Anti-corruption laws and lobbying regulations on their own are insufficient to promote inclusion or prevent exclusion, to deter unethical or 'corrupt' lobbying or prosecute breaches of lobbying rules. Other tools are needed to level the playing field.
  • Some existing tools can help to achieve inclusive lobbying. These include the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – specifically SDG 16 and SDG 17 – standards, and legal and administrative tools used in procurement (for example, those developed by the OECD, multilateral banks, CSOs, UNCAC and U4).
  • Stakeholder mapping, community meetings and shared platforms can give equal access to stakeholders, and there are measures around procurement transparency that could be adapted to prevent exclusion. Donors and recipients can also educate programme staff about the importance of inclusive practices, and how to prepare for the risks involved with lobbying.

Cite this publication

Nest, M.; Mullard, S.; (2021) Lobbying, corruption and climate finance: The stakes for international development. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2021:13)

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About the authors

Michael Nest

Michael Nest has worked on anti-corruption issues for 15 years, including research and policy development and as a practitioner. He was a Senior Corruption Prevention Officer at the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption, and has undertaken consultancies for Transparency International, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), US Agency for International Development (USAID), East Timor’s Anti-Corruption Commission, and Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency. He has a PhD in Politics from New York University, USA.

Saul Mullard is a senior adviser at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre and a civil society specialist with a background in historical sociology, development studies, and South Asian studies. His research interests include the relationship between corruption and climate change and the role of local communities and indigenous peoples in addressing corruption and environmental protection. Mullard holds a doctorate and master’s in South and Inner Asian Studies from the University of Oxford, as well as a BA in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)