Global civil society groups express solidarity to Filipino human rights and environmental defenders during the UNEA-3

December 13, 2017

Nairobi, Kenya—The Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC) joined fellow civil society groups from different sectors in giving tribute to human rights and environmental defenders slain while at the forefront of the struggles in protecting their environment and asserting their rights. The Women Major Group initiated the action along with colleagues from the indigenous people, NGO and other major groups during the Third UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-3) in Nairobi, Kenya.

“We are gathered here today to express solidarity to all women human rights and environmental defenders who are risking their lives in protecting people’s rights and the environment,” said April Porteria, Program Coordinator and representative of CEC in the UNEA.

John Knox, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment endorsed the tribute and led the reading of the names of the 21 most recent cases of extrajudicial killings of women human rights and environmental defenders across the globe. Of the 21 names mentioned, eight were from the Philippines, the most recent case is the killing of Elisa Badayos, a human rights defender in Negros Island working with peasant and environmental groups in the province.

CEC also acknowledges the draft policy on Environmental Defenders by the UN Environment. “This is a welcome development especially in this time of worsening repression among environmental defenders in different parts of the world,” added Porteria.

In the Philippines alone, there are already 42 killed since President Duterte step into office. Most of the killings are related to resource conflict in land, mining, expansion of large-scale plantations, among others. Aside from the killings, the EARTH or Environmental Advocates against Repression and Tyranny in Defense of Human Rights in the Philippines said there are also about 240 cases of harassment lawsuits and 18,263 people, mostly indigenous communities, have been forcibly displaced because of their resistance to destructive projects.

While governments negotiate in Nairobi for a pollution-free planet, grassroots communities are resisting and fighting back dirty businesses in defense of their rights and the environment back home. The groups call for the recognition and upholding of people’s rights in the UNEA negotiations and demand accountability from the biggest polluters—the big businesses.