The Global Witness report has singled out this last decade as one of the deadliest to Environmental protectors following a report on the killings of Activists dating back to 2012.
The Global Witness Warns on a deadly decade, in a report they indicated the global growing urgency to save and preserve the land and environment, calling upon climate change and biodiversity activists, as the situation worsens.
The report notes that in the past decade, land and environmental defenders were killed every two days. Thousands more continue their activism globally, despite serious ongoing threats to their lives.
Global Witness has been gathering data on the killings of land and environmental defenders since 2012.
In the meantime, a ferocious image has come into focus with evidence suggesting that as the climate crisis intensifies, violence against those protecting their land and our planet remains persistent.
The report states that the control and use of land and territory is a central issue in countries where defenders are threatened.
The increased murders, violence, and repression are connected to territorial conflicts based on the extraction of natural resources from the land to pursue economic growth.
Evidence also shows that the data on killings does not capture the true scale of the problem.
In some countries, the situation facing defenders is hard to gauge – restrictions on a free press and a lack of independent monitoring in many countries often lead to underreporting.
Land disputes and environmental destruction can also be hard to monitor in parts of the world affected by conflict.
Global Witness discovered that few offenders are ever brought to justice due to the failures of governments to properly and correctly handle this crime.
Most authorities ignore or actively hinder investigations into these killings often due to alleged collusion between corporate and state interests.
A spokesperson for Global Witness said,
“All over the world, Indigenous peoples, environmental activists, and other land and environmental defenders risk their lives for the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.
The role played by the activists as the frontline of defense against ecological collapse, yet they get attacked themselves facing violence, criminalization, and harassment perpetuated by repressive governments and companies prioritizing profit over human and environmental harm.
With an increasing global attack and worsening climate and biodiversity crises, this report highlights the critical role of defenders in solving these problems and causing an urgent appeal for global efforts to protect and reduce attacks against them.”
A case study of Kenya by Tracey West Ceo of Word Forest (FRIEND OF JOANNAH STUTCHBURY)
“She was just a normal woman, but her legacy will shine a light”
Joannah had tree sap running through her veins. She was a tree lover, a permaculture practitioner, a full-on environmentalist and conservationist, a mum, and an earth mother.
She had a passionate and unwavering passion for the planet and was wonderfully frenzied.
She was full of life and joie de vivre. She was shot dead as she returned to her home on the outskirts of Nairobi in Kenya in July 2021.
For many years Joannah had spoken out with passion and determination against land-grabbers and well-known private developers who had begun destroying the Kiambu forest next to where she lived.
She made headlines in 2018 when she single-handedly confronted those that were felling trees and, in the months before she was killed, she had rightfully won a legal case against a developer wanting to build on the forested land.
On the day of the incident, she stopped her car to clear branches that had been purposefully put there to block her driveway. Neighbors found her dead with her car engine still running.
I’m praying she didn’t see it coming and that she didn’t suffer, but it looks like this extraordinary woman was targeted to be murdered.
We also know she was receiving multiple death threats. One time, I recall her telling me that an unknown man had visited her to tell her they would kill her if she continued disrupting their plans to construct an access road through the forest.
Despite this, she received no police protection. But that didn’t stop her. She continued to fight for what she believed in.
For what we should all believe in. Still to this day, her bravery and determination are what shine through all the sadness.
I often ask myself in despair – how many more environmentalists protecting our planet are going to have their life force ripped away before governments start paying attention and finally stand shoulder to shoulder with these brave pioneers?
Legislation and enforcement are needed globally to hold accountable greedy corporates, corrupt authorities, thoughtless land grabbers, and those whose very existence is propelled by indiscriminate blood money.
Joannah was an exceptional soul – a noisy, wonderful, troublesome woman on a mission to protect the world in countless ways.
But she was also a normal person, just like you and me. She had no agenda other than living sustainably, sharing her knowledge, taking care of forests locally, and worrying about the existential climate crisis.
And she loved Mother Nature to the max. We will forever mourn what we and the world have lost.
Global Witness Recommendations
The government of Kenya should:
–Ensure that those responsible for the murder of Joannah Stutchbury are brought to justice.
–Recognise the rights of Indigenous peoples and local tree-planting communities as a critical and effective way to protect forests, including the Kiambu Forest.
–Protect land and environmental defenders by ensuring effective and robust regulatory protection of the environment, land rights, Indigenous peoples’ rights, livelihoods, and cultures, including free, prior, and informed consent.
–Withdraw the proposed Amendment Bill to the Forest Conservation and Management Act of 2016. The proposed amendment would weaken the governance mechanisms of Kenya’s public forests, open avenues for the grabbing of public forest land, and lead to the loss of forests.
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–In conjunction with discussions with Indigenous people and tree-planting communities, create an advisory panel that includes climate scientists, meteorologists, and environmental NGOs.
They can all contribute experience and share data about what lies ahead, as the blueprint to mitigate climate chaos and global warming is created.