How do you perceive corruption – and when is it worth tolerating?

What should we do about trying to achieve conservation in corrupt countries? This was recently brought up in our first lecture of this term and presented as a trade-off, an interesting perspective since I think manyof the people in the world who have money to give might see this as a black or white issue. In fact,  this interactive map showing country’s scores on the Corruption Perception Index is much more colorful than one might expect! Check it out: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/interactive/2010/oct/26/corruption-index-2010-countries-world.
Definition of corruption: “Unlawful use of public office for private gain” (Transparency International 2007).

It’s mildly hypocritical to try to avoid corrupt areas, first of all because often our own countries (speaking from the perspective of the global North) don’t have such a clean slate anyway and secondly because in some places, all business (personal or corporate) is conducted through what some of us might call corruption. So when that is the case perhaps it is not worth fighting the system… or at least considering what trade offs would be acceptable.

Further reading:

  • A paper in Nature in 2003 (Governance and the loss of biodiversity, 426 67-70 – doi:10.1038/nature02025) found that where there is more corruption more elephants and rhinos are lost and that the places conservationists most want to conserve are often in places with corruption.
  • A paper called Should conservationists pay more attention to corruption? in Oryx 2005 (Oryx 2005, 39:251-256, 10.1017/S0030605305000608)
  • Conservation Trade-Offs book (see Reading List page of this blog)