Land and environmental defenders in danger
“We are no criminals. We just want to produce on our land and feed our families.” Every week, 4 land and environmental defenders are killed. Many more are criminalised. Almost 40 percent of victims are from indigenous groups.
Criminalisation, judicial harassment, smear campaigns to stigmatise and discrimination are among the most common risks. Global Witness presented these alarming trends during a webinar about this important theme, organised together with the International Land Coalition, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IUCN NL and WWF.
Accelerated threats and attacks
On top of these shocking numbers, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have accelerated threats and attacks against these land and environmental defenders. If we want to uphold our universal human rights principles, we cannot Build Back Better after the crisis without supporting them.
As one of the participants said: “How can we protect our planet if we cannot protect the people who defend it?”
On the other hand, there are some positive signs. Governments are developing laws protecting defenders and a growing number of businesses have a better response. These signals are important in realising the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate agenda.
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With SRJS, we support and strengthen local NGOs and civil society organisations in 16 countries, so that we can safeguard water supply, climate resilience and food security together with governments and companies. We also ensure that these organisations work together to become stronger.