Today, 20th September 2019, the environment takes centre stage as people across the world join in a Global Climate Strike, urging governments and the private sector to take concrete action in order to avoid further deterioration of our climate and the manifold human rights impacts that this would imply.
PBI accompanies environmental defenders and activists in different parts of the world as part of our commitment to protect the environment and prevent climate breakdown. The people we accompany often put their own lives on the line to defend their land, territory and natural resources in steadfast conviction of their importance for humanity and for the health of our planet. Without these people who stand up to the economic interests that threaten the health of our planet, the unique threats that currently face the earth will cause drastic changes in climate and an increase in suffering for the most vulnerable.
At PBI we believe that a culture of respect for human rights can only truly be achieved when local human rights defenders are protected and can continue with their important work despite the attacks that they are victims of and the risk that their work implies. It is only through ensuring that these people are safe and can carry out advocacy in favour of human rights that the international legal framework is upheld and peoples´ rights are truly respected, protected and fulfilled.
This idea can and must be extended to environmental protection. Those who defend their water, they mountains and their ecosystems are at the frontline of environmental protection and must be able to continue their work in secure conditions. They are at risk due to the powerful economic and political interests that lie behind environmental destruction, whether that be through the imposition of mineral extraction projects, agri-business or other sectors that seek to exploit natural resources for economic gain. In a system that favours profit over rights, economic models that encourage the forced displacement of those defending their resource-rich territories will continue and those at the forefront will remain at risk of violence.
PBI will strive to ensure that environmental defenders and activists are protected so they can continue to work on the frontlines to ensure that our environment is preserved, and we avoid climate breakdown. With this in mind, we urge governments to take action to support the work of environmental defenders, to recognise their important contribution to the fight for climate justice and the protection of our environment and planet.