For Immediate Release

Valentina Stackl
(202) 466 5188 x100

December 6, 2018, Washington, D.C. – Environmental and human rights activists are facing a global wave of repression and violence linked to land disputes, natural resources, and climate change. Two hundred and seven killings of land and environment defenders were documented in 2017, the worst on record. In response to this violence and to mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, today human rights group EarthRights International launches a new action plan and interactive web platform titled Fighting Back: A Global Protection Strategy for Earth Rights Defenders. Fighting Back lays out a roadmap to protect the rights of earth rights defenders so that they can continue their important work of protecting our planet.

“Around the world, brave activists are standing between the world’s most precious natural resources and the world’s most powerful elites,” says Ka Hsaw Wa, ERI co-founder and former Goldman Prize winner. “These activists need more support from civil society, funders, governments, and international institutions.”   

Earth rights defenders are instrumental in supporting their communities to stand up for and claim their rights: they expose injustice, demand accountability from their governments, and change the laws that undermine human rights. They are advocates, organizers, trainers, educators, and connectors. Because they are often the last line of defense between frontline communities and ecosystems, and powerful elites that seek to extract and exploit those resources, their lives and security can be threatened.

“Protecting the earth has become one of the world’s most dangerous professions. Women are especially at risk,” says Katie Redford, ERI co-founder. “Urgent action is needed now by all stakeholders to stop this violence.”

The global protection strategy outlined in the report and accompanying web platform contain concrete actions that we believe will help reduce the number and severity of attacks against earth rights defenders. The global protection strategy is based on the ‘protect, prevent, reveal, and redress’ framework developed by human rights, environmental, and funding organizations in 2016 in response to the growing pressure and violence directed at defenders. The framework led to the development of the Environmental Defenders Fund, a joint donor effort to support threatened activists that is coordinated by the Biodiversity Funders Group.

A launch event is also scheduled for next Thursday, December 13 in Bangkok, Thailand.