According to figures from the NGO Global Witness, 66 environmental defenders have been killed so far in 2018.
Environmental defenders are people who take peaceful action, either voluntarily or professionally, to protect the environment or land rights. They can be indigenous or peasant leaders, lawyers, journalists or NGO staff working to expose environmental abuses, land-grabbing, and other violations. They are often ordinary people who may not define themselves as “defenders”.
Global Witness uses an extensive network of local contacts and other techniques to gather evidence every time a defender is reported as killed. Because killings often happen in remote areas and go unreported, very few make the official list. Current rates amounts to four environmental defenders being killed a week, however Global Witness believes the real figure is much higher.
According to Global Witness, Brazil, the Philippines and Honduras are the most dangerous countries for environmental defenders. It says the main driver behind killings is industry, notably agribusiness and mining but also poaching, hydroelectric dams and logging.