More than 200 environmental activists were murdered worldwide last year. According to the UK human rights organization Global Witness, the death toll was at least 227 in 2020, and the organization said that so many activists have never been killed before.
In Colombia, by far, most conservationists and environmentalists died: 65, and in Mexico the number of confirmed deaths is 30, then the Philippines is 29, and Brazil 20. “2020 was the worst year yet. Aggression against environmentalists and human rights activists has increased sharply,” says Lourdes Castro of the Colombian non-governmental organization Somos Defensores. “Mostly indigenous people who defend their ancestral lands are targeted.” According to the organization, many attacks have to do with the intention to use nature for monetary gain, such as forestry, mining and large-scale agriculture.
‘Actual number is higher ‘
The actual number is likely to be higher due to unreported or misrepresented cases, especially in Africa, according to the non-governmental organisation. In 2019, a minimum of 212 environmental activists were killed worldwide.
Behind the acts of violence are mainly businesses, farmers and sometimes government servants. Criminal gangs, paramilitary groups and rebels also kill activists. Globally, the majority of environmental activists murders were related to forestry, followed by water and dam construction projects and agriculture, according to the Global Witness report.