enhanced
solutions
for fighting
environmental
crime

ECO-SOLVE is a new project within the European Union’s Global Illicit Flows Programme and implemented by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC). ECO-SOLVE is a three-year project beginning in late 2023 and running until September 2026.

The GI-TOC has identified several fundamental issues that hamper an effective response to environmental crime:

Policymakers and law enforcement actors are constrained in their work by insufficient data and inadequate international cooperation. They struggle to harness developments in technology and to react to changes in the criminal landscape, and so cannot keep pace with fast-adapting criminal markets.

green and red light wallpaper

Failure to adequately regulate online retail markets has created a haven on the internet for actors in the illicit wildlife trade.

Corruption and political protection create impunity for environmental criminals.

euro banknote collection on wooden surface

The failure to include communities living in areas of biodiversity in the design of law enforcement strategies undermines attempts to stop illegal harvesting and poaching. The same failure at the global level weakens global policy development.

ECO-SOLVE has been designed to address these gaps and shortfalls.

To do so, it will monitor the online trade, extracting data that can inform law enforcement and broader regulation, while driving greater cooperation in responding to illicit markets. It will investigate and expose the corrupt politicians and private sector actors who bear the greatest responsibility for facilitating global illicit environmental flows. It will work to include community perspectives in local policing strategies, and to ensure the voices of communities – key potential agents of change – are heard in multilateral forums.

activities

ECO-SOLVE is designed around three key workstreams – technology, exposure and community engagement, set out in more detail below – to address the issues hampering current law enforcement responses. These are supported by a fourth output, a grant facility that will fund other organizations to partner with our monitoring system, or run data cooperation or community projects that will intensify the impact of the ECO-SOLVE project.

The project’s activities employ new models and emerging technology, and are designed to generate fresh solutions to old problems. The grant facility has been designed to encourage experimentation and enable timely interventions to disrupt environment crime. The project has also been designed to connect local programming with regional and global policymaking.

1. Technology for disruption

The GI-TOC will build a global monitoring system composed of ‘data hubs’ in key countries using OSINT and machine-learning approaches to monitor online illicit wildlife markets. The hubs will stimulate local intervention in online wildlife trafficking and support capacity building in local law enforcement, while generating data that can help us understand trends and shape global policymaking. It will also promote international cooperation to create data that can be used to disrupt other illegal environmental flows.

2. ELITE PROTECTION EXPOSURE

Through mixed-method research projects, we aim to uncover evidence of the elite-level corruption behind the illegal timber industry, and identify gaps in enforcement and legislation

3. COmmunity engagement

This component of the project will empower
communities affected by environmental crime so that their perspectives can inform better local policing, while allowing them to participate in and inform debates in global forums.

4. STRATEGIC GRANT FACILITY

A grant facility will be used to heighten the impact of the three workstreams above by funding community projects in areas affected by environmental crime, enabling partnerships and projects linked to improving global data on illicit environmental flows, and to react to opportunities to address impunity or corruption.

At the core of the ECO-SOLVE approach is collaboration among the numerous stakeholders that are the target beneficiaries or partners of this programme.

To ensure synergy, the activities have been designed to align with the needs of EMPACT, as well as global development priorities. The activities will involve the participation and partnership of local communities exposed to organized environmental crime, national and international NGOs, law enforcement bodies, researchers and policymakers.

resources

An analytic review of past responses to environmental crime and programming recommendations

Over the past 15 years, there has been significant growth in awareness that environmental crime constitutes serious organized crime. There has also been a development of laws and policies to accompany that. However, despite the urgency and importance of the issue, responses still fall far short of what is needed.

data & wildlife crime

Technological advancements have transformed the landscape of IWT, shifting it from physical markets to virtual platforms. However, technological innovations can be simultaneously harnessed to improve monitoring, understanding and international collaboration as components in disrupting IWT. This CITES side event aims to foster a dialogue on the opportunities and hurdles within this context while introducing upcoming projects in the field.

About the GI-TOC

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime is an independent civil society organization, headquartered in Geneva. It provides a platform to promote innovative approaches to responding to organized crime, which serve as the building blocks to shaping an inclusive global strategy against organized crime.