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25 Okt 2016

Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

If govts., companies and investors don’t change the way they do business, more environmental activists will die & planet will be exposed to irreversible destruction, says Special Rapporteur

"As the global death toll rises, it’s time for business to protect environmental activists by letting them have a voice", 25 Oct 2016

If governments, companies and investors don’t change the way they do business, then more environmental activists will die and the planet will be exposed to irreversible destruction. This is the urgent message I delivered to the UN General Assembly last week... According to Global Witness, 185 people were murdered in 2015 for denouncing abuses linked to mining, hydroelectric, agribusiness and other extractive industries. These people are known as land and environmental defenders. In many cases the projects these activists objected to were already underway, with authorities and businesses anxious to see a return on investment. Activists and communities were excluded from decisions...and - when they spoke truth to power - they paid with their lives.My new report...advocates a preventative approach. Currently, a mix of public officials, businesses, investors and foreign governments decide how large-scale development projects are designed and implemented. If...environmental defenders were active partners in the design of projects from the very beginning, it would make them less vulnerable to attacks later. It is an approach which lowers risks for investors too, with a greater chance of long-term returns if local tensions and future abuses are avoided and mitigated with the guidance of local defenders.