Giving Compass’ Take:
• Environmental watchdog Global Witness revealed that there was an increase in the number of land and environmental defenders killed from 2018 to 2019.
• How can philanthropists support and help protect environmental activists and land defenders?
• Read more about the risks for Indigenous protestors defending the environments.
Datu Kaylo Bontolan, an Indigenous Manobo leader in the Philippines, was killed during a military assault in northern Mindanao in April 2019. For decades, the Talaingod-Manobo peoples have fought against industrial companies pushing for commercial logging and mining on their land. As industry moved in, so did the military. Bontolan was one of the 43 land and environmental activists killed in the country last year.
A comprehensive new report from the human rights and environmental watchdog Global Witness found that about 212 land and environmental defenders were killed in 2019 worldwide — a nearly 30 percent rise over 2018 data. The Philippines and Colombia were two of the deadliest countries for environmental activists. More than half of the total reported killings last year took place in those two countries. More than two-thirds of the killings took place in Latin America, which has consistently ranked as the deadliest region overall. The countries with the highest number of killings per capita were Honduras, Colombia, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and the Philippines. About 40 percent of victims were from Indigenous communities, while over 10 percent of defenders killed were women.
The mining industry continues to drive most of the deadliest attacks on environmental activists like Bontolan — about 50 defenders were killed in mining-related conflicts in 2019. Agribusiness and logging were also major sources of conflict. While Global Witness has been documenting environmental attacks since 2012, the group noted that their data almost certainly doesn’t capture the full scope of the problem, because many parts of the world are restricted and difficult to monitor.
When it comes to protecting the land and resources that stand between the world and climate catastrophe, environmental defenders — many of them Indigenous — have been the first line of defense for decades. As climate change accelerates, it looks like these activists will continue to face greater and greater risks.
Read the full article about environmental activism by Rachel Ramirez at Grist.
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