Murders of Environmentalists Hit Record High in Global South

In recent times, as the climate crisis intensifies, violence against those protecting their land and the planet has also increased. The international human rights organization Global Witness has released a report stating that murders of environmentalists and land defenders has hit record high in global south in 2020.

Evidently, the violent resource grab in the global south continued unobstructed despite the coronavirus pandemic. According to the report, 227 people were killed last year while trying to protect their land and resources.

For nearly a decade, Global Witness has been gathering data on killings of land and environmental defenders. The latest report reveals that all except one of these deadly attacks happened outside North America, Europe and Oceania.

Murders of Environmentalists Hit Record High in Global South

Image: Rodrigo Abd/AP Photo

According to the authors, environment-related conflict is, alike the climate crisis disproportionately affecting lower-income nations. For instance, despite accounting for only 5 percent of the global population, indigenous communities suffered more than a third of the killings.

The report said;

On average, our data shows that four defenders have been killed every week since the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement. As the climate crisis deepens, forest fires rampage across swathes of the planet, drought destroys farmland, and floods leave thousands dead, the situation for frontline communities and defenders of the Earth is getting worse.

The annual count of the dead has increased for the past two years, however, the real number could be higher as the calculation depends on transparency, press freedom and civil rights that vary considerably from country to country.

The countries in South and Central America is home to the world’s richest biodiversity and intact forest, were earlier the deadliest region for those trying to resist mining, logging and other anthropogenic activities.

Murders of Environmentalists Hit Record High in Global South

Image: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

Colombia witnessed 65 deaths, Mexico with 30 killings, Philippines with 29 deaths, Brazil with 20 killings and Nicaragua with 12 killings.

One of the authors, Chris Madden said;

2020 was supposed to be the year the world stood still, but this didn’t translate to less attacks. In some countries protest was shut down while industries were allowed to continue. We saw that with mining in the Philippines and further encroachment in the Amazon.

While 2020 brought some respite for land defenders and environmentalists, in some cases, lockdowns made matters even worse by making it easier for assassins to know where to find their targets and by making campaigners more susceptible to digital attacks.

The study found that at least 30 percent of recorded attacks were linked to resource exploitation, mostly logging, mining and hydroelectric dams. The cause for others was still not clear.

While there are many laws and bills are being prepared to prevent human rights violations and killings and require companies to conduct mandatory environmental due diligence, it is still a long way to go before things could actually change.

Via: The Guardian

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