This Earth Day, petition the Prime Minister to better protect at-risk environmental human rights defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

April 22 is Earth Day and this year’s theme is climate action.

The Peace Brigades International global statement highlights, “As Earth Day focuses our attention on conserving the natural environment it is important environmental defenders on the frontline are supported and protected.”

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has affirmed this imperative and in a recent address to the Human Rights Council told them, “We must better protect those who defend the environment.”

Bachelet highlighted, “Environmental defenders – including those who defend indigenous peoples’ right to land – engage in great service to their countries, and indeed humanity. The Office and Special Rapporteurs have noted attacks on environmental human rights defenders in virtually every region, particularly in Latin America.”

In 2019, 304 human rights defenders were killed including 106 in Colombia, 31 in Honduras, 23 in Mexico and 15 in Guatemala. Overall, 40 per cent of those killed worked on land, Indigenous peoples and environmental rights.

Furthermore, Bachelet has described climate change as “a rapidly growing and global threat to human rights” and has called on governments “to contribute the strongest possible action to prevent climate change.”

PBI’s Earth Day statement notes, “PBI draws attention to the plight of environmental defenders who put their lives at risk to protect their territories from economic projects that destroy ecosystems and instigate irreversible damage. They must be protected to prevent further climate breakdown of our shared planet.”

It adds, “PBI will continue to seek ways to ensure these defenders can continue with their fundamental work, despite the risk and even during the coronavirus crisis, as without their work we risk further crisis across the planet.”

One way to take action in Canada is to call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to recognize climate change as a threat to human rights, commit to deeper emission reduction targets, and support strategies to better protect at-risk human rights defenders.

To do so, please send an email to the Prime Minister, that you can personalize with your own added message, via our online Urgent Action here.

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