The environmentalists They are people who seek to create awareness about the effects of human actions on the planet. These people promote the conservation and recovery of natural resources, essential for all and in danger that has been proven for decades. Then, Why are the lives of environmentalists at risk?
First, it is necessary to differentiate an environmentalist, someone who acts on the action of humans on nature, from an ecologist, who is a scientist, an academic trained to study, care for and protect nature, in terms of the relationship that with she has the people.
Human life in the last 50 years has affected many ecosystems in order to respond to the needs of food, fresh water, fuel and wood resources.
The result, largely beneficial, has caused a loss, in many cases irreversible, on the diversity of life on Earth.
Among these effects, there is global warming, which causes the melting of glaciers and the rise in sea levels, and which is difficult to stop without acting as a society.
What does an environmentalist do?
The first formal record on the action of environmentalists dates from 1962, with the publication of the book “Silent springBy Rachel Carson. In it, the author blamed the chemical industry for pollution, especially pesticides.
This led to events and movements aimed at protect endangered species, preserve water quality and protect forests. And in the 1970s they managed to get important protectionist laws passed in the United States of America, including the eventual ban on DDT, a powerful insecticide that was shown to contaminate food.
However, an environmentalist is an individual or group of individuals concerned about their environment who does not always act at the institutional or political level. It can be an indigenous person, a lawyer, a journalist or even an NGO worker. Their reasons serve community and local needs and their actions tend to focus on the area where they live or work.
And why is your life in danger?
In trying to protect the environment, environmentalists oppose activities and projects that endanger it. Generally, the first thing that happens are social provocations between those who want to alter the environment and those who try to stop them.
Sayings problems are generated in the name of development and by land disputes; Either because governments grant concessions for projects without consulting or taking into account communities living in remote areas or because they cannot do anything, such as armed groups or small landless farmers, hunters and illegal loggers in search virgin resources.
In any case, clashes occur between environmental leaders, community leaders, and important economic interests, or guerrillas occupying the area, because generally the former do not have government support.
The interests of environmentalists, on the other hand, are not only focused on stopping projects; too there are initiatives that seek the protection of areas, like the creation of the national park system in Costa Rica, for example, or the renowned work of Jane Goodall in favor of chimpanzees, in Tanzania.
The Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Global Witness, which addresses the reasons behind resource exploitation, corruption, poverty, conflict and human rights abuses, finds strong figures on the victims of environmental conflicts.
Those in the most recent report account for 164 environmental defenders killed in 2018:
- Philippines: 30
- Colombia: 24
- India: 23
- Brazil: 20
- Guatemala: 16
- Mexico: 14
- Congo: 8
- Iran: 6
- Honduras: 4
- Ukraine: 3
- Venezuela: 3
- Cambodia: 3
- Kenya: 2
- Gambia: 2
- Chile: 2
- Pakistan: 1
- Senegal: 1
- South Africa: 1
- Indonesia: 1
The same source warns that the figure may be higher since, generally, there are no reports or records of the murders.
The murders have multiplied in Latin America and, in 2016, saw the fall of Walter Méndez, in Guatemala, Berta Cáceres and Lesbia Urquía, in Honduras, and Nilce de Souza Magalhães, in Brazil. Only four names among many who have disappeared, assassinated or branded as internal enemies and terrorists by their governments.
Reasons for the attacks on environmentalists
It is estimated that the confrontations and murders of the environmentalists
they are related to:
- Claims on land:
- Displacement of human groups
- Road construction
- Conflicts associated with mining
- Planting transgenic products
- Endangered species
- Defense of water sources:
The voices of international organizations, such as the Human Rights and Environment Program of the Inter-American Association for Environmental Law (AIDA) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) have risen against the attacks, but the advance is slow.
The legal framework that protects actions against the environment is international and the vast majority of the countries of the world have endorsed it, so it is necessary that both governments, private companies and individuals know it so that they respect it.
Environmental legal framework
- In 1972, the United Nations (UN) issued the Draft Declaration on the Human Environment, which called for the creation of common criteria and principles among countries that would serve as a guide to preserve and improve the environment.
- In 1992, the countries that make up the UN met at the Earth Summit in Rio and agreed to highlight the role of individuals, indigenous peoples, NGOs, local authorities, unions, companies, researchers and farmers in sustainable development.
- In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted to give shape to the actions agreed in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, agreed at the Rio Summit.
- In 2000, development of the millennium goals, which include the protection of natural resources.
- In 2005, the Kyoto Protocol came into force and the need to use unconventional energy was added.
- In 2016, the Paris Agreement was signed, with the goal of targeting maximum key temperatures.
- In 2018, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the region most affected by the murders, ratified the Escazú Agreement (Costa Rica), a treaty for the promotion and protection of the human rights of environmentalists.
- In September 2019, they will meet under the Climate Action Summit, to evaluate the results of the countries’ initiatives.
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