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Follow the money to catch illegal loggers world bank


The same follow-the-money approach used to catch drug kingpins and human traffickers could be used to track down the big operators behind large-scale illegal logging, the World Bank said on Tuesday. Around the world, illegal loggers cut down an area of forest the size of a football field every two seconds, generating criminal proceeds of between $10 billion and $15 billion annually, the Bank said in a report,"You have a crime, it's generating proceeds, and one way to enlarge your toolkit is to follow the money," said Jean Pesne, manager of the Bank's Financial Market Integrity unit, which released the report, "Justice for Forests."Deforestation of protected land may be done to harvest old-growth trees and exotic woods or to clear land for large-scale agriculture or cattle grazing. But it can lead to soil erosion and cuts down on trees' ability to lock up climate-warming carbon dioxide. The report, which does not differentiate between the reasons for tree-cutting, advocates the use of financial tools more familiar in the pursuit of organized criminals to combat illegal deforestation.

The full range of crime-fighting tools should be used to catch illegal logging organizations, rather than the low-level operators who cut down the trees. These tools include electronic surveillance, undercover operations and witness protection, according to the report. Preventive measures have been tried to curb illegal logging, but have been "without significant impact," the report said."Use money as both intelligence and evidence," Pesne said by telephone. "What are these criminal organizations, how are they structured, and what are the intermediaries who are interfering with their work? ...

"These are sophisticated tools that are better suited to go after the big fish."Any intermediaries would have to be paid at some point, making them the beneficiaries of a crime, and law enforcement officials could follow the flow of dirty money from the criminal organization to corrupt officials, Pesne said.

Most countries where illegal logging takes place have laws in place to track these funds, but making them work requires cooperation from the private sector, especially financial institutions obligated to report suspicious transactions, the report said. These techniques would probably be most effective in more sophisticated countries with a strong judiciary and the ability to train financial investigators, Pesne said. Indonesia and Brazil, both countries with substantial illegal logging, have started moving to probe the big players in those criminal enterprises, he said. In Africa, Pesne said, countries such as Cameroon, Congo, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo have worked to prevent illegal logging but they could begin to use the follow-the-money techniques.

Green climate fund aims to fund first projects in november


BONN, Germany, Oct 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The Green Climate Fund, which is due to deliver billions of dollars to help poorer nations deal with climate change in the coming years, is aiming to allocate money to a first set of projects in November, ahead of a major U. N. climate conference in Paris. Héla Cheikhrouhou, executive director of the fund, told journalists she hoped some proposals would be approved by its board at a meeting in Zambia from Nov. 2 to 5."It is good that we are starting with a manageable number of projects that are fully prepared and appraised, and ready for an investment decision," she said. The board will consider eight proposals, which would require a total of $168 million in funding. They were selected from 37 proposals submitted since July. Those chosen in the first round have a wide range of objectives, from protecting Peruvian wetlands and developing an energy-efficiency green bond for Latin America to expanding the use of climate information and early warning systems in Malawi, and managing water shortages in the Maldives. Cheikhrouhou noted that 83 percent of total funding sought by the eight proposals was for action in the most vulnerable developing countries, including small island states and African nations. Around two-thirds of the money was intended to support plans to adapt to climate change impacts, and some three-quarters had been requested in the form of grants, she added. The prominence of projects to help the poorest cope with climate change "is testimony to the fact that adaptation finance in the developing world is suffering from a backlog in terms of availability of sources of finance and lack of international funding," she told a meeting at U. N. climate talks in Bonn.

A recent report on climate finance from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Climate Policy Initiative showed that just 16 percent of $114 billion in climate finance delivered to developing nations over 2013 and 2014 was allocated purely for adaptation measures. A further 7 percent went to projects supporting both adaptation and efforts to cut emissions."It's a positive signal that many of the initial projects to be considered by the (Green Climate Fund) board are grant-based adaptation projects," said Brandon Wu, a policy analyst with ActionAid USA."This trend should extend into the future - addressing the historical imbalance between mitigation and adaptation finance."

The Green Climate Fund, set up at U. N. climate talks in 2010, plans to allocate half its funds for adaptation and at least half of that money to the most vulnerable countries. Aid agencies have long called for more balance in climate finance, most of which goes to renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Some, including development charity Oxfam, are pushing for a target on public finance for adaptation in a new global climate change deal due to be agreed in Paris in December."The reality is that developing countries require climate financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building both now and far into the future - in some case just to survive, let alone make the transition to the 'low carbon economy'," said Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko, the South African chairperson of a group of 134 developing nations at the talks in Bonn.

'NOT A TASK FOR PEANUTS' Climate finance is proving a big sticking point in the negotiations, amid disagreement over which countries should provide it and how much it should increase beyond 2020, a deadline for mobilising $100 billion annually for poorer nations. Cheikhrouhou said she thought U.S. Republican politicians, who have held up Washington's $3 billion pledge to the Green Climate Fund, would come round when they saw the money was going to investments in things like improved energy access, food security and protecting the livelihoods of vulnerable people, in line with their priorities. The Green Climate Fund board will discuss how to tap sources of money other than government treasuries next year, she added. At the Zambia meeting, it also will talk about a major replenishment of its initial resources of $10 billion, possibly in 2017. The mandate of the fund is to make an ambitious contribution to keeping global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, she noted."That is not a task for peanuts, so this is why we need to be very creative and innovative in mobilising and attracting financial resources," she said.