Global demand for products like timber, palm oil and minerals is rising which is leading to governments, companies and criminal gangs illegally seizing land. That has in turn led to clashes as people have sought to protect their homes and the environment. A new report by NGO Global Witness has now shed light on the number of people killed worldwide as a result of conflicts over resources. The research documents 200 deaths in 2021. It adds that the data will never provide an accurate picture of the true scale of the problem due to a lack of free press in many of the countries affected as well as the fact that many governments fail to monitor abuses.
Almost four land and environmental defenders were killed every week on average last year with around a quarter of all murders occurring in Mexico, followed by Colombia and Brazil.
The deadliest sector in 2020 was mining, with 27 deaths connected to it. For the majority of deaths, no specific sector could be identified, however.
The report recommends that the human right to a safe, healthy and sustainable environment should be formally recognized by the United Nations to lay the groundwork for better holding companies and governments accountable.