Climate, land and environment

Land, climate and environment

Climate, land and environmental rights defenders work against the clock to address the climate crisis and help us all live on a healthy, sustainable planet.

Human rights defenders are at the forefront of protecting their communities, the environment and key natural resources that maintain the balance in our planet. A balance that is under worsening threat. Data is clear: there is a trend of increasing attacks against human rights and environmental defenders across all regions. Globally, 604 attacks on activists working on business-related human rights issues were recorded in 2020, despite or because of the vital work they are doing so that their communities can live on their land in a healthy, sustainable manner. 

Many attacks on human rights defenders are linked to business activities, with private actors either directly perpetrating the abuses or failing to act against imminent and predictable business-related harm. The situation is especially concerning in the extractives and agribusiness sectors.

Demand for natural resources is at an all-time high and continues to grow, while environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity advances. At this pace, if the global population continues to grow as predicted, by 2050 we would require three planets to provide the natural resources that currently sustain our way of living. Economic sectors linked with the exploitation of natural resources tend to be at the forefront of human rights abuses globally, such as extractive, oil and gas or those businesses linked to sectors fueling the so-called fourth industrial revolution, such as batteries or solar panels. 

Moving towards a zero-carbon economy becomes indispensable. However, this transition should not be encouraged at the expense of human rights or harm to local communities.  The transition towards renewable energy sources is an opportunity to address serious socio economic issues, but it has also become a threat to human rights, as abuses linked to renewable energy projects are becoming increasingly frequent.

Latest updates

Check out all the latest updates to this topic

NGO Forum | Implementation of the African Commission’s decision on the rights of the Endorois indigenous people of Kenya

To date, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ (the African Commission) recommendations to the Kenyan Government on reparations for the eviction of Endorois indigenous people from their ancestral lands in the 1970s remain largely unimplemented. On 13 April 2021, the NGO Forum met to discuss the status of the implementation of the African Commission’s 2010 decision 276/2003 on the rights of the Endorois people.

HRC46 | Civil society presents key takeaways from Human Rights Council

16 organisations* share reflections on the key outcomes of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, as well as the missed opportunities to address key issues and situations including pushbacks and other human rights violations faced by migrants and refugees, and the human rights situations in Algeria, Cameroon, China, India, Kashmir and the Philippines. A shortened version was delivered at the Council. Full written version below.

Mexico | Genuine commitment urgently needed to protect environmental and human rights defenders

The 'Mayan Train', a touristic train cutting across numerous areas of rich environmental and cultural diversity in Eastern Mexico, may sound like a fancy development project. But what the shiny brochure doesn't display are the terrible consequences for the indigenous communities who call this area home, and for the environment. Six UN experts have addressed those in a letter to the Government, raising expectations of a meaningful commitment by Mexico, as a re-elected member of the Human Rights Council, to address human rights concerns and protect defenders.

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