The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox; the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, stress that protecting environmental rights defenders is crucial to protect the environment and the human rights that depend on it.
“Being an environmentalist can be a dangerous, even deadly undertaking. Berta Cáceres, the Goldman Prize winner who was assassinated in Honduras in March, was only one of dozens of environmentalists to be killed this year.
Every week, on average, two environmental and land rights activists are killed and the numbers are getting worse, according to the international NGO Global Witness. The situation is particularly grave in Latin America and Southeast Asia, but it affects every region of the world. It is truly a global epidemic.
On this World Environment Day, we want to underscore that environmental human rights defenders should be lauded as heroes for putting themselves at risk to protect the rights and well-being of others. Instead, they are often targeted as if they were enemies of the country.