Following the money: illicit financial flows and sustainable development goal 16.4

Liz Campbell, Nicholas Lord

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Sustainable development and the enhancement of justice and security globally are predicated on the existence of sufficient and appropriately deployed assets. Mindful of this, and of the misuse of both public and private wealth, UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.4 (SDG 16.4) seeks to ‘…significantly reduce illicit financial … flows’. This chapter critiques how this aim of SDG 16.4 has been operationalised. We argue that the choice and placement of the term ‘illicit’ is crucial: it can relate to the finances, the flows, or both, as well as to the people involved, as facilitators or protagonists, and is expansive enough to encompass criminal, unlawful and ostensibly legal but illegitimate or harmful assets, acts and actors. Moreover, this chapter explores why the movement of assets is significant, within and between jurisdictions, and how these transfers and transactions impact on sustainable development and can worsen inequalities. Our attention is on the conceptualisation, measurement and operationalisation of illicit financial flows (IFFs) in particular and the corresponding implications for available policy responses in the form of situational interventions as a more plausible route to understanding and reducing IFFs in the context of promoting SDG 16.4.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Emerald Handbook on Crime, Justice and Sustainable Development
EditorsJarrett Blaustein, Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Nathan W. Pino, Rob White
Place of PublicationBingley UK
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781787693555, 9781787693579
ISBN (Print)9781787693562
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2020


  • AML
  • beneficial ownership
  • corporate vehicles
  • Illicit financial flows
  • sustainable development goals
  • transparency

Cite this