Academic research and investigative journalism have revealed the role of illicit and/or clandestine transactions (financial and in-kind) in driving land-use changes. Examples include illegal deforestation, agricultural expansion funded through tax havens, urbanization and infrastructure development via bribes, and large-scale commodity agriculture established for money laundering. Given the growing influence of illicit and/or clandestine transactions on land systems, this immersive session invites a range of practitioners and watchdog organizations to reflect on the role of science in informing policy on this topic, and present what they see as the types of evidence and/or research required to better govern the harmful effects of illicit capital flows and/or clandestine transactions on people and nature. While data to study these activities becomes increasingly available (e.g. Panama/Paradise papers, satellite data, and social media), the movement of capital and new technologies to obfusticate digital trails is also growing. Closer collaboration between scientists, journalists, and civil society actors may aid efforts to make headway.
This session invites perspective from diverse global settings and will explore questions such as:
- For what phenomena are there sufficient evidence to warrant taking action or informing policy, and what kind of illicit economic links to land require more research?
- What data could or should scientists make better use of? What policies are needed to ensure data on these transactions could be made more available?
- What are possible or existing governance structures (formal and informal) that could be leveraged or need to be built (e.g. certifications and consumer pressure from timber to oil palm, international agreements, or national laws)?
Panelists will comment on these key questions and the policy relevance (or lack thereof) of the research in the preceding panel on the same topic, as well as field audience questions, to discuss this important issue. This innovative/immersive session supports OSM theme 3 by proposing steps forward in supporting transformation regarding this global challenge.
Session Organizers: Elizabeth Tellman and Nicholas Magliocca