Shobha Shukla, CNS (Citizen News Service)
Violations of the environmental rights of communities and individuals are on the rise in Asia Pacific and worldwide. Statistics released by Global Witness reveals that in 2017, 197 people were killed (on an average 4 per week) for defending their land and/or natural resources, underscoring the escalating violence in a global economy that is driven by expansion and consumption through corrupt and unjust practices. Extractive industries were one of the deadliest drivers of violence.
Also around 40-50% of all victims globally come from indigenous and local communities who are defending their lands, and their access to natural resources which they depend on for survival and livelihoods.
Women environmental defenders are vulnerable
Women environmental defenders are especially vulnerable, and are prone to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. They are being threatened and even killed when they speak up against the corporate aggression directed at natural resources.
Intensification in killings is related to intensification of exploitation and plunder of the natural resources.
The current neoliberal economic development model gives corporations the power to take over the people and their resources.
"Philippines, along with rest of South-East Asia, is abundant in natural resources, thus becoming a hotspot for foreign investors, especially in mining, logging, and industrial agriculture. It has the biggest mono crop plantations, especially of oil palm and rubber, built for export. So while the country is rich its people remain poor. They are not benefitting from their own natural resources. This has lead to conflict situations and people's uprising. In fact Philippines, with 41 deaths, was the most murderous country for environmental defenders in the whole of Asia", bemoans April Porteria, programme coordinator at Centre for Environmental Concerns Philippines, and civil society representative from Asia Pacific for UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Climate justice is integral to sustainable development