Environmentalists continue to die, according to a report by Global Witness that alleges over 1,700 eco-activists have been killed since 2012.
To put it into scale, 1,700 murders in ten years means an average just under one killing every two days.
The new report by NGO Global Witness, dug for every reported killing of an environmental activist between 2012 and 2021. They found unsolved murders, killings by hitmen and organized crime groups, and assassination by governments. Global Witness keeps a constant eye on these things, publishing a yearly report on environment-related crime.
Mike Davis, the current CEO of Global Witness, founded the organization after the 2012 murder of Chut Wutty, a Cambodian environmentalist Davis worked with investigating illegal logging.
“Wutty prompted us to confront a range of questions. What was the global picture, what were the implications of such attacks and what could be done to prevent them?” wrote Davis in the report.
The killings are worst in countries which don’t politically support environmental protections. Brazil, Colombia, the Philippines, Mexico, and Honduras are the worst offenders in the past decade. Killings saw a spike during the pandemic, when oversight was low. 227 environmentalists were killed in 2020 alone, and 200 in 2021.
Extractive industries like mining and logging are associated with the most murders, when a cause was known.
The authors of the report want it made clear that their numbers are absolutely an underestimation – they only include deaths known to be murders, known to be environmentalists, and reported to be related to their activism. Many, many more must go undocumented.
“It’s important to picture these victims as the real people they are. It’s easier for me. I have been surrounded by land and environmental defenders all my life, and indeed I am one of them,” wrote the Indian environmentalist Dr Vandana Shiva in the report foreword.