Academic Paper
September 1
2 mins

Environmental and land defenders: Global patterns and determinants of repression

Philippe Le Billon & Påivi Lujala
Marine extractive practice at the Espacio Costero Marino Manihueico Huinay, Los Lagos Region
Marine extractive practice at the Espacio Costero Marino Manihueico Huinay, Los Lagos Region. Credit: Francisco Araos
This paper presents the first multivariate analysis to identify patterns of repression and potential determinants of killings of environmental defenders.

Environmental and land defenders play a crucial role in attempts to slow down environmental change and address power inequalities in land use and resource development. Yet, they frequently face repression, including defamation, criminalization, and assassination. Recent policy and media coverage initiatives have provided much-needed attention to the protection and support of defenders, but there has so far been little systematic analysis of patterns and determinants of repression at multiple scales. This paper uses databases providing the best available worldwide record of cases of socio-environmental conflicts and killings of defenders to identify patterns of repression and potential determinants of killings.

Main findings include: Globally, about a third of socio-environmental conflicts involve mass mobilization, arrests, and direct forms of violence. These ‘high-intensity’ conflicts are more frequent in Asia and Latin America. At least 1734 killings of environmental and land defenders took place in a total of 53 countries between 2002 and 2018, most of them occurring in Brazil, the Philippines, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, and Peru.

Citation

Le Billon, P., and Lujala, P. (2020). Environmental and land defenders: Global patterns and determinants of repression. Global Environmental Change 65:102163

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