RISKS OF CORRUPTION IN THE FIELD OF ENVIRONMENT AND MEASURES TO PREVENT CORRUPTION AND FRAUD

Client: Keskkonnaministeerium

Period: 2017-2018

In addition to reducing trust in the state, corruption in the environmental field poses a threat to the misuse of Estonia’s strategic natural resources – forests, oil shale, etc. In order to prevent the misuse of strategic resources, it is important to develop and effectively implement regulations concerning the use of resources.

The study mapped the corruption risks in the area of ​​administration of the Ministry of the Environment and proposed measures to prevent corruption and fraud. The analysis focused on three areas: forestry, waste management and the earth’s crust. In addition, the public procurement procedures and personnel policy of the Ministry of the Environment were analyzed across sectors. 

In the field of forestry, the type of procedure with the highest risk of fraud is the submission of forest inventory data to the Environment Agency for confirmation. It is a “public secret” for many market participants that it is possible to order forest inventory data from specific forest management companies that is favorable to the customer or that favors the customer’s interests. 

Among the activities in the field of waste, the organized procurement procedure for waste transport is evaluated to have the highest prevalence of corruption. In order to regulate the organization more centrally, consideration could be given to making the approval given by the Environment Agency binding on the local government.

The need for environmental impact assessments in connection with crustal permits may create a situation in which a person interested in carrying out (general) geological research influences a private service provider to portray the environmental effects more favorably than the actual situation. In order to mitigate this risk, a change in the procedure may be considered so that the state administrative body selects an environmental impact assessor and the applicant for a (general) geological exploration permit reimburses the costs of the impact assessment directly to the state.

The regulations concerning the conduct of public procurement in the administrative area of ​​the Ministry of the Environment largely fulfill the objectives of mitigating corruption risks both through the principle of multi-eye (e.g., formation of procurement committees) and by separating the activities of the contracting authority and the procuring entity. It is important to follow the multi-eye rule and avoid conflicts of interest in all administrative activities.

The study was completed in cooperation with the law firm NOVE. The study was commissioned by the Ministry of Environment.

In order to carry out the analysis, questionnaire surveys with various target groups and interviews with employees of institutions operating in the administrative area of ​​the Ministry of Environment were conducted. The case law on environmental corruption offenses was also analyzed.