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1 Nov 2021

Amnesty International & other 18 organisations

UK: Government must recognise role of environmental human rights defenders in resisting climate change, say rights groups

"COP26: UK Government must recognise role of environmental human rights defenders in resisting climate change", 31 October 2021

Environmental human rights defenders have seen an increase in attacks and threats by governments around the world, and the UK Government must do more to recognise their crucial role and protect them, Peace Brigades International and Amnesty International UK said today in an open letter to Alok Sharma, COP26 President.

The work of environmental human rights defenders is integral to the protection of the planet and the transition to greener economies. Activists and communities play a crucial role as a first line of defence against ecological collapse, as well as being frontrunners in the campaign to prevent it, which must be recognised...

All over the world, Indigenous peoples and environmental defenders risk their lives for the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. According to the latest Global Witness report, 227 land and environmental defenders were killed worldwide in 2020, marking an increase from 212 people in 2019...

Global governments must:

  1. Improve minimum standards of support for environmental human rights defenders across its network of embassies and diplomatic posts;
  2. Strengthen protection arrangements for environmental human rights defenders, through measures such as protection grants, amnesties and funding for rapid response emergency mechanisms.
  3. Increase access to flexible and core funding for environmental human rights defenders.
  4. Facilitate and support access to justice and resilience building, through UK pro bono partnerships and legal clinics.
  5. Establish and facilitate access to effective judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms to address business-related human rights and environmental abuses committed by UK companies domestically and extraterritorially.
  6. Integrate a human rights-based approach in policies, and condition its climate finance on such an approach, in consultation with human rights defenders and civil society
  7. Ensure UK business enterprises, including financial institutions, to apply and publish human rights due diligence measures to identify, prevent, and mitigate against potential and actual human rights abuse, including the criminalisation of defenders.