On 23 November 2023, a regional expert consultation on exposing elite protection and corruption in environmental crime in Africa was organized as part of the ECO-SOLVE project, a new global programme designed to disrupt illicit environmental flows.

Opening remarks were made by representatives of the Delegation of the European Union in Kenya and the GI-TOC, after which John Githongo, an anti-corruption activist from Kenya, discussed the role of state-embedded actors in driving environmental crime and the impact that exposure reporting in international, national and local newspapers can have.

During the meeting, speakers discussed and presented case studies, experiences and insights covering the following areas:

  • What opportunities, techniques and approaches have previously been used for uncovering elite protection?
  • What has happened in the wake of major exposés of corruption?
  • What systemic weaknesses exist that allow elite protection of environmental crime to flourish in Africa?

During the event, participants, including anti-corruption activists, environmental defenders, investigative journalists and academics, discussed the shrinking space for media to operate, the need to better understand the political economy of corruption, and the lack of state incentives to fight corruption where the two are intertwined. They also expressed concern about ‘exposure fatigue’ and discussed how to overcome it.

Throughout the consultation, participants highlighted the key role of local networks (including youth networks) in raising awareness of the impact of environmental crime and inspiring change. The need to connect local media with international civil society organizations, to create safe spaces for reporting and to improve cooperation and collaboration was also discussed.

For the next stage of the programme’s implementation, particularly the workstream on corruption and elite exposure, the team took away insights on how to work with local and international media on a dissemination strategy and how to target corruption messages to different audiences. The team gained valuable insights on how to build networks, including links with key anti-corruption organizations and civil society actors, and began discussions on potential collaborations with researchers in the region.

ECO-SOLVE leads the charge against environmental crime with its global, collaborative, data-driven approach. Our mission: transform data insights into impactful action; support law enforcement to disrupt illicit flows; empower communities; shape effective global policies. ECO-SOLVE is an EU-funded project within the Global Illicit Flows Programme.

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