I have defined environment in most articles as; ‘everything’ – consisting of four interconnected and continually and dynamically interacting dimensions: ecological-biological, socio-economic, socio-cultural and temporal dimensions.
Environmental decision-making and management must, therefore, be geared towards sustaining the interconnections, interactions, and dynamism within and between the dimensions in order to ensure the integrity of the environment.
In the post-modern age, environmental decision-making is excessively political and corporate tending to serve forces and interests that are not committed to the sustainability and integrity of the environment. Such forces and interests are committed to unlimited exploitation of the environmental resources. They regard conservation of the environment as a roadblock to their craze for what they call development – yet their prime interest is to exploit resources of others to make money and sustain a world economic order that depends on and propels the money economy. Environmental conservationists may be regarded as enemies of the State and at worst cast as terrorists.
In Nigeria, environmentalist and human rights crusader, Kenule Beeson ‘Ken’ Saro-Wiwa, was hanged by the State because he sounded caution that oil firms and government were destroying the livelihoods of the people by destroying the land on which they depended.
Accordingly, the national, regional and global political and corporate issues are determined to ensure that management of the environment and the environmental decision-making thereof, serve the money economy. To this end they pay lip service to collective efforts to protect and conserve the environment. Whatever they pursue and do is blind-folding, intended to give the impression that they are serious about protection and conservation of the environment. The result is continuous, proliferating and spiralling corruption of the environment and the environmental decision-making, and ultimately environmental crime. Environmental criminals are more dangerous than ordinary criminals because they undermine the wholesomeness of the environment to feed their greed and selfishness.
Because of the unity of national, regional and global political and corporate forces in wreaking havoc on our only liveable planet Earth, I have decided, in this article, to characterize the corruption and crime thereof as politico-corporate corruption and politico-corporate crime respectively. Actually politico-corporate corruption itself is a crime against humanity because it undermines environmental integrity and capacity to support life, and denies humanity the right to enjoy wholesome life in a wholesome environment. So, politico-corporate corruption and politico-corporate crime are indistinguishable in their influence on humanity and human societies.
This is not the first time I have used the phrases politico-corporate corruption and politico-corporate crime in my environmental discourses in the national, regional and global development debates, particularly regarding huge and large dams as vehicles of development. In early 2000, the International Rivers Network – IRN published a Memorandum I wrote jointly with the late Martin Musumba and Frank Muramuzi under the title: “The Threat of Environmental Corruption via Huge Dam Projects” to Dr R.J.A. Goodland, the then Environmental Advisor at the World Bank in Washington DC. Earlier on in 1999, I delivered a paper under the title: “Corporate Corruption and Crime in the Bujagali Dam Project Process, Uganda” at a World Commission on Dams – WCD organized Consultation held in Cairo, Egypt. Therefore, my concern on crime and corruption in development programmes and projects and their destructive impacts on human environments now stretch 24 years.
This, article is a revival of those concerns. Almost in every programme and project in Uganda politico-corporate crime and corruption can be evoked to explain why the rate of failure by far outstrips the rate of success of performance of the programmes and projects.
Virtually all development programmes and projects are either initiated by the President of Uganda or government to serve local political interests of power, glory, wealth and domination or corporate interests, at the exclusion of the people for whom they are said to be pursued and done. This is best shown where the programmes and projects require Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA). Either the EIAs are done to endorse government and corporate choices of projects or are avoided altogether. The National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), which was a gift to Uganda from the World Bank, is frequently arm-twisted to approve programmes and project, which would otherwise not pass the test. And when they proceed, untold environmental damage is the result. The sufferers are the citizens who are impacted negatively by the programmes and projects. Some citizens lose life and livelihoods as a result of implementing the programmes and projects, and often they are not compensated.
Let me list some of the common ways in which high-level political and corporate corruption and crime have arisen and been exploited by political and corporate forces, separately or jointly, to make EIA processes and NEMA itself, inconsequential, ineffective or useless in environmental decision-making. Hopefully, Ugandans, and other Africans, of all stations of life will use this information to demand greater participation in environmental decision-making to make development work for them instead of feeding the greed and selfishness of politicians and corporate interests. When they do, combating corruption and crime in development will not be left to government (s) and official institutions, such as Uganda’s “Inspector-General of Government” (IGG). In a forth coming article, I will link environ mentality and govern mentality towards effective environmental conservation and management in Africa in general and Uganda in particular.
Here are some of the ways politico-corporate corruptions and politico-corporate crime are preserved in both environmental politics and development politics:
Direct World Bank involvement in all processes leading to the creation of National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA). World Bank is the major funder of huge projects such as dams, which wreck environments and ecosystems.
For a long time, the World Bank was the major funder of NEMA, whose job was to approve or reject projects and programmes that violate the environment and is, therefore, a major actor in the environmental decision-making process, but is not free from political and corporate influences.
Doing environmental management and conservation as a political and technical enterprise, involving international Financial Institutions (IFI) such as World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), yet environmental management and conservation since time immemorial has been a social and cultural enterprise. The tendency is to exclude local people and indigenes from centrality in the enterprise.
Erection of criminal enterprises to lead environmental management and conservation yet their target is money, influence and domination, or access to natural environmental resources.
The President of Uganda, who has graduated himself as the top initiator of development projects and has the power to ensure an environmentally-destructive project or programme proceeds with being constrained by EIA application, has given Uganda a philosophy of development that puts infrastructure development ahead and above nature, environment and people. Presidentially initiated projects may or may not attract EIA application, but even if they did not say no to them since it gets most of its funding today from President Yoweri Museveni’s Government.
Many powerful people in government or connected to power evade EIA application to their projects, however environmentally destructive.
Before EIA application, potential environmental, health, social and cultural impacts are rarely considered, implying that harmful impacts on humanity and the environment are the rule rather than the exception. This way development is done at the expense of humanity and environment.
Government (s) and developers have turned the EIA process into a bureaucratic formality, only to convince those who oppose environmentally dangerous projects that government (s) and developers that may be government or government in ventures with corporates.
Government (s) may use EIA as just another regulatory hurdle, which the developers must jump before their projects are approved.
Governments and funders rarely use EIAs as objective studies to be used to inform an open debate on whether or not a project is desirable. During the Bujagali dam process both government and developers did everything to ensure my ideas of caution were not reflected in the final EIA report.
As in Bujagali dam process, EIAs are used to rubberstamp projects that have already been decided to proceed whatever others say.
Making international environmental consulting a big and very profitable business. Writing an EIA is the second biggest sector after project. Consultants and developers connive to ensure the EIA does not contain anything that would curtail the project.
In the Dams industry, corruption and crime are promoted by the tendency to use a small number of consulting firms, some of which are also involved in actual building of dams. This is criminal but persists in world development. A good example id German’s Lahmeyer International.
Some consulting firms are subsidiaries of dam-building firms. A good example is NorConsult, a Norwegian consulting firm related to the dam building firm, NORPAK. This is criminal. This is criminal but persists. This means a firm assessing the environmental viability of a project is also likely to get the contract to build it.
Independent consultants without attachment to international consulting firms are frequently excluded from the environmental decision-making process. However, in case they are included, they are likely to connive with the developer to underplay environmental impacts of the project in question, or to exaggerate its benefits so that it is approved. This too is criminal.
Developers, funders and consultancies often enjoy warm and mutually rewarding relationship. They are unlikely to let each other down and, therefore, however, environmentally dangerous a project has a very high chance of being approved to proceed at the expense of the taxpayers and the people it will negatively impact. This too is criminal.
EIAs are never peer reviewed. So, exclusions and inclusions that are harmful to people and country are frequently left to be part of the final EIA report. This too is criminal.
EIA reports are often treated as State or commercial secrets between the State and the developer (in something called business confidentiality) and hidden from public scrutiny. This is definitely criminal but in international business it is taken as normal.
Consultants safeguard the biases in writing the EIAs toward ensuring that what their clients want is not left out. Their clients want the project to proceed. So, EIAs everywhere end with the same conclusion, namely: The Project’s environmental impacts are relatively minor, and can be relatively cheaply mitigated. This is criminal, and an international plot against humanity.
Where certain sections of the EIA are critical or raise concerns on effects that cannot be predicted, the criticism I purposely toned down or completely removed from the EIA report. This is criminals.
It is not rare for authorities to decide that the EIA is done parallel with rather than before work on the dam. This was done in the case of IPS Kenya LTD’s Bujagali dam. It was criminal. The myth was that continuing monitoring of the project would enable any serious environmental problems to be identified and mitigated. The truth is that most environmental impacts cannot be mitigated once a project is built. May projects will require mitigation by being redesigned, but this is time, energy and money consuming.
Equating monitoring to mitigation in order to skirt mitigation so that an environmentally dangerous project proceeds is criminal. Monitoring environmental damage does not stop the damage.
Consultants tend to hid the comparisons of profit and theurge to spend less on mitigation measures. This is dishonest and corruption-leaning.
EIA Consultants will almost always avoid discussing whether the mitigation measures they propose or recommend have been implemented before project implementation. They do not discuss whether the mitigation measures are effective if implemented. Besides, they don’t mention whether the environmental impacts of other projects they were involved with have been or were accurately predicted. This is corrupt.
Almost always, EIA tend to end before project implementation is finished. So, there is really no room for the consultants to discuss mitigation. It is part of the scheme of secrecy surrounding EIAs. Yet the environmental impacts of big projects such as dams are extremely difficult to predict. This is corrupt.
Decisions whether or not the environmental damage of the project will outweigh the benefits ends up being outside any wisdom gained from the EIA, It is a subjective and political decision. One then wonders why the waste of time, energy and money on the EIA process. It is hoodwinking.
Clearly the decision should be made after an informed debate involving people to be affected by the project and the general public, but governments, consultants and developers hate this. They would rather engineer the debate and the conclusion that affected people and the public were involved in a fruitful debate.
In conclusion, therefore, development is not only exclusionist but also a gigantic lie only pursued to satisfy the greed and selfishness of governments, developers, politicians, consultancies and banks and individuals who invest their money in global International Financial Institutions such as the World Bank to grow the money economy and profit motive.
There is need to rethink development and environmental management and conservation. We are not doing them right. Politico-corporate corruption and politico-corporate crime are not virtues but vices. They undermine genuine development and environmental management and conservation. They are behind the proliferating climate change. We should blame governments that pursue environmentally destructive development and the international financial institutions that invest in it to make more money for the banks and individuals that invest in them.
For God and My Country.