Harassment of Environmental Defenders

Category: Aarhus
A snapshot of Europe in 2018/2019

Hearing horrible stories about harassment of and violence against environmental defenders in other parts of the world, especially from Latin America and South East Asia, certainly disturbs us. However, we in Europe feel relatively safe in this regard. Is this a right feeling ? Well, in a way yes, because the harassment happening in Europe, especially in the EU, against environmental defenders, is incomparable in gravity with those happening in the world elsewhere. But let us not mislead ourselves believing that the old continent is totally free from these retributions.

As Jeremy Wates, Secretary General of EEB writes in his foreword to a new publication on harassment of environmental activists:

"Globally, the number of defenders that have been murdered has quadrupled in the last ten years. Worldwide, environmental activism has gained momentum due to the escalating existential threats of climate change and exponential biodiversity loss. Frequently, the activists who have been targeted and harassed are those who cause most disturbance to those benefitting from environmental destruction, and in that sense, they become victims of their own success. The international community is beginning to recognize that there is a need to protect the people who put their lives on the line for a better future for everyone."

Part of this recognition is the new case study report prepared by J&E and EEB, published lately, detailing cases and data about harassment of environmentalists from a few EU Member States. The picture it paints is not as terrible as stories from other continents, but still worrying. These people stand up for our future, for our planet, for the public interest. They deserve to be protected, and both the European Union institutions and the governments must act in order to provide this protection. This is what both J&E and EEB will work on in the future.

The publication is available at the following links: