The Basel Institute’s Green Corruption programme is a multi-disciplinary initiative that targets environmental degradation using anti-corruption and governance tools. Our team consists of specialists in financial investigation and asset recovery, public governance, intelligence and environmental crime.
We work worldwide with the public and private sectors and civil society to bring a “follow the money” approach to the fight against the illegal trade in wildlife and other environmental crimes. This includes supporting our partners to build investigative capacity for tracing illicit funds, remove opportunities for corruption and confiscate the proceeds of crime.
The aim is to help dismantle the organised crime groups and corrupt actors that are exploiting our green planet for personal gain.
Frequently asked questions
- What is “Green Corruption”?
Corruption and weak governance are key enablers of environmental crime, and as such are key drivers of environmental degradation in many parts of the world. This has become an existential threat to both animal and human populations.
In brief, environmental criminals use corruption and fraud to engage in illegal wildlife trade, fishing, logging, mining and waste trafficking. They exploit gaps in governance and launder the profits of their illicit trades on international financial markets.
To prevent further environmental degradation resulting from the illegal exploitation and trade of wildlife and other natural resources, it is therefore essential to “follow the money”.
Removing opportunities for corruption, tracing illicit financial flows and confiscating the proceeds of crime will help to dismantle the criminal organisations that are exploiting the planet for personal gain.
- What does the Basel Institute bring to the fight against environmental crime?
At the Basel Institute on Governance, we have almost two decades of experience in preventing and combating corruption, tracing and recovering stolen assets, and strengthening governance.
In 2018, we began to apply our experience in fighting financial crime to the illegal wildlife trade (IWT). This includes working with key financial institutions and law enforcement partners to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of transnational IWT-related financial crimes, producing and facilitating the sharing of actionable intelligence on criminal networks, and assisting with regional and international cooperation.
To ensure that private sector and law enforcement action is well targeted, we have undertaken field research into the drivers and facilitators of wildlife trafficking in East Africa and the operations and interactions of criminal networks within formal and informal economies.
We have since expanded the scope of the Green Corruption programme beyond transnational IWT to other areas of environmental crime.
- Where and with whom do you work?
We currently have a field presence in East Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Since criminals do not respect borders, our work naturally and regularly also operates beyond the confines of our field presences.
As an independent organisation that works hand-in-hand with governments, international organisations, civil society and private sector partners around the world, we are well positioned to take action and join a broad coalition of support to tackle the financial crimes that drive environmental degradation.
We regularly bring together leading figures from the public and private sectors and civil society to explore topics of financial crime, illicit trade and the environment. Examples include the Corrupting the Environment webinar series in 2021 in partnership with the OECD, and events such as the high-level panel on Environmental Corruption as a Roadblock to Reaching the SDGs at the 9th Conference of the States Parties to the UNCAC. We also hold regular cross-sector discussions with other stakeholders through the USAID-funded Targeting Natural Resource Corruption project.
- How is the Green Corruption programme funded?
We are grateful to the Principality of Liechtenstein for providing core funding to the Green Corruption programme.
In addition, we implement projects for a variety of institutional and private donors, including the following past and current donors since 2018:
- Elephant Crisis Fund
- PMI Impact
- The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
- UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) under the IWT Challenge Fund
- USAID through the Targeting Natural Resource Corruption (TNRC) project, which is led by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in consortium with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre at the Chr. Michelsen Institute, TRAFFIC and the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) at George Mason University
- USAID through the USAID INTEGRITAS programme in Indonesia
- Where can I learn more about Green Corruption?
As well as browsing our publications, you can access an interactive four-part series on different aspects of green corruption on our online learning platform, Basel LEARN:
- Illegal wildlife trade and financial crime
- Illegality in the exotic pet trade
- Forest crime and the illegal timber trade
- Corruption and marine wildlife trafficking
Find summaries and audio/video recordings from our Corrupting the Environment virtual event series here.
Our eLearning course on Open-source Intelligence, developed with funding from PMI Impact and available for free on our Basel LEARN platform, involves a simulated investigation into a case of illegal fishing.
You can also take a free introductory online training programme (two hours) on how to identify and mitigate financial risks related to illegal wildlife trade in general. It was co-developed by ACAMS (the largest association of anti-financial crime professionals) and WWF with our team’s support.