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Report: Defending Tomorrow: The climate crisis and threats against land and environmental defenders

For years, land and environmental defenders have been the first line of defence against climate breakdown. Yet despite clearer evidence than ever of the crucial role they play, far too many businesses, financiers and governments fail to safeguard their vital and peaceful work. Global Witness's annual report into the killings of land and environmental defenders in 2019 shows the highest number yet have been murdered in a single year. 212 land and environmental defenders were killed in 2019 – an average of more than four people a week.

Read the report from Global Witness

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Report: Business and Human Rights Defenders in Colombia

Colombia’s economy is dominated by land-intensive industries where operations often bring significant human rights risks. This makes the work of human rights defenders (HRDs) and civil society critical to bringing shared prosperity, freedom and sustainability.

Defenders who seek to prevent or expose abuse by businesses face concerted and sometimes deadly attacks. This report examines the relationship of business to attacks on human rights defenders in Colombia between 2015 and 2019. Colombia is the second most dangerous country in the world for attacks on HRDs working on business issues, hosting 9% of all cases globally.

Read the report from the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre


Report: Uncalculated Risks - Threats and attacks against human rights defenders and the role of development financiers

Through 25 case studies, Uncalculated Risks explores the nature of the threats and attacks against defenders in development, and examines the role of development finance institutions in mitigating or exacerbating these risks.

Read the research from the Coalition for Human Rights in Development

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Report and briefing: Enough! Pledging zero tolerance to attacks against environmental and human rights defenders

Environmental and human rights defenders face significant and growing risks, experiencing violence, intimidation and criminalisation as a result of their efforts. This research critically assesses the various initiatives, led by states, intergovernmental bodies, the private sector and development finance institutions that seek to protect environmental and human rights defenders. It highlights the limitations of these initiatives, and argues that the knowledge, experiences and priorities of the defenders themselves have not been adequately included in the design of protection mechanisms and approaches.

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Report: We mean business: protecting women’s rights in global supply chains

Identifying, addressing and holding companies to account for the impacts of their activities on women needs to be embedded in due diligence legislation and wider business and human rights policies and strategies, or we risk adopting measures that will leave women behind. ActionAid's paper explains why such an approach is needed, and how states and companies can integrate gender-responsive human rights due diligence into existing and emerging efforts in the area of business and human rights, from garment factories in Bangladesh to mining projects in Nicaragua and Zambia, to agricultural investments in Guinea Bissau, Guatemala and Malawi.

Read the paper from ActionAid

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Video: It's time to protect environmental rights defenders!

Video: Time to protect environmental rights defenders! Environmental rights defenders are the most at risk group of human rights defenders. Because they oppose mega-projects that harm Nature and local communities, they face major risks, individually and collectively. If we do not protect these defenders, who will fight for the future of our planet? It is time to protect human rights defenders and to join their struggle for a better world. Watch the video from the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders.

Watch the video from the UN Special Rapporteur on environmental rights defenders

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Outcome document: Defending the defenders

Human rights defenders are dying, attacked and criminalized all over the world. This is happening at an increasingly alarming rate. In 2017, over 400 people were killed while protecting their community’s land or natural resources. Approximately half of these were indigenous peoples. The conference aimed to understand why in particular and increasingly indigenous peoples from developing countries are being killed or persecuted. The conference examined the key drivers behind this global phenomenon and discussed context-specific cases, and what can be done to change the current situation. 

Read the conference report from IWGIA

Read the conference report from IWGIA

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Accountability Framework Initiative: Delivering on ethical supply chain commitments

The Accountability Framework provides a common roadmap for setting, implementing, and monitoring ethical supply chain commitments in agriculture and forestry. These norms reflect the consensus of a diverse coalition of respected conservation and human rights NGOs from around the world. They were developed in close consultation with the private sector and other key stakeholders to establish a harmonised global reference that is applicable across commodities and regions.

Visit the initiative's website

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Video: Deforestation in the Amazon: the cost for indigenous people

Besides its grave climatic impacts, deforestation in Brazil is also threatening the rights and lives of indigenous peoples with conflicts over resources in the Amazon resulting in more than 300 killings in the past decade. Indigenous peoples' representatives travelled to Europe to share their experiences. They called on investors to take action and engage with investee companies so that they respect indigenous peoples’ rights, improve product traceability and conduct meaningful stakeholder engagement with indigenous peoples.

Watch the video from PRI

Database: 2020 Snapshot - Attacks against human rights defenders linked to business activities are rising

This snapshot covers the annual findings from the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre database of attacks against human rights defenders which  includes over 2000 cases of judicial, physical and lethal attacks, highlights some of the key positive steps that companies and investors have recently taken to address these attacks and reprisals, and summarises the recommendations to these actors.

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Open letter: Human Rights Defenders are a cornerstone of sustainable development

Human Rights Defenders face greater risk of retaliation and violence than ever before, especially those working in defence of land, environmental and indigenous peoples’ rights. While development interventions can be a powerful tool for the realisation of human rights, too often activities undertaken in the name of development fail to adequately consider human rights conditions and impacts, and end up exacerbating the risks for defenders.

Read the article from Forest Peoples Programme

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