The Gecko Project investigates the role of land use in some of the most pressing global challenges: climate change, deforestation, the collapse of biodiversity, food security, the rights of marginalised communities and the health of democracies.
We harness the power of investigative journalism and storytelling to catalyse change that will protect the environment and human rights.
Decisions over how land is used have a profound impact on people and the environment globally. The expansion of industrial-scale agriculture has played a leading role in the loss of tropical rainforests and biodiversity. Agriculture, forestry and other land use accounts for almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Land-based developments such as plantations and mines are central to economic development strategies across the world. But these projects can lead to the loss of existing food sources and livelihoods, paradoxically reducing food security among the most vulnerable communities, increasing inequality as wealth is entrenched at the expense of the poor.
In many cases they are established through coercion, violence and the violation of the rights of rural communities. Millions of people across Asia, Africa, and Latin America have lost their land to private companies and state projects. The gravity of the problem was reflected in 2016 when the International Criminal Court announced that crimes associated with land grabbing could amount to crimes against humanity, and now fall within its mandate.
On the current trajectory, land use will continue to play a significant role in driving greenhouse gas emissions. But as the IPCC has noted, with urgent and far-reaching action, land resources can help mitigate climate change. Equally urgent action is required to curtail and provide redress for the egregious human rights violations that are occurring as a consequence of industrial land use.
Policymakers, enforcement agencies, scientists, pressure groups and citizens are actively engaged in addressing these questions across the world. Within that ecosystem of actors, investigative reporting has a critical role to play. It can reveal the reality of how decisions over land use are made, exposing the factors that influence them, improving understanding of why policies sometimes succeed and sometimes fail, and catalyse transformative action.
What we do
The Gecko Project carries out in-depth investigations into how decisions over land use are made, who makes these decisions, and why. We expose undue influence and abuses of power that lead to harm being inflicted on people and the environment. We also examine interventions - whether policies, regulations or social movements – that lead to better outcomes.
Our findings are released in a range of mediums, in English and other languages, to ensure they reach as broad an audience as possible. This includes narrative-rich longform articles with a strong human interest, films, photography, graphics, explainers, analysis and commentary.
The Gecko Project operates on a partnership model. We tend to collaborate on investigations with larger media outlets and publish our outputs together. To date we have partnered with leading publications in Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, the US and UK.
Who we are
The Gecko Project is a nonprofit organisation registered in the UK. It began life as a project within another nonprofit, Earthsight, in 2017, before becoming an independent organisation in 2019. We have a core of six full-time and part-time staff working remotely in the UK, US and Indonesia. We work with a large network of freelance reporters, researchers, photographers and filmmakers globally.