Right to nature

In many countries, local and indigenous communities are hardly involved in decision-making processes related to a landscape. However, they possess a great deal of knowledge about the landscape and nature and are first to suffer the effects of any changes it undergoes. This violates their right to the availability of water, food and shelter, their right to religious sites and participation. 

Informing people about their rights

Access to information is essential in order to protect these rights. To this end, IUCN NL facilitates easily accessible trainings and meetings for local communities to keep them informed of developments occurring in their territory. We also inform them about their rights, such as the right to Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), and how they can exercise it.

Facts

  • The UN Rio Declaration states that every individual must be able to participate in decision-making processes related to the environment
  • Human rights and the environment are bundled in the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable living environment. [1]bron: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Environment/SREnvironment/FrameworkPrinciplesUserFriendlyVersion.pdf
  • Every week, four people are killed because they stand up for nature.
  • Mining and industrial farming are the greatest causes of conflict.
  • Indigenous people are hit hardest.
  • Female environmental defenders are often extra vulnerable.
  • The UN Rio Declaration states that every individual must be able to participate in decision-making processes related to the environment
  • Human rights and the environment are bundled in the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable living environment. [2]bron: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Environment/SREnvironment/FrameworkPrinciplesUserFriendlyVersion.pdf
  • Every week, four people are killed because they stand up for nature.
  • Mining and industrial farming are the greatest causes of conflict.
  • Indigenous people are hit hardest.
  • Female environmental defenders are often extra vulnerable.

Gender equality

Equal value of the experiences, views and solutions of women and men is vital for ensuring a sustainable and just world. IUCN NL strives to achieve gender equality goals [3]bron: https://www.sdgnederland.nl/sdgs-2/doel-5-vrouwen-en-mannen-gelijk/ for the well-being of people and nature.

Valuable knowledge

As a result of deep-rooted power relations, women often have less access to decision-making, information and rights to land and water.  However, their experience and knowledge are of great value, and they must be given the opportunity and the space to contribute to a more sustainable world.

Moreover, the safety measures for female environmental defenders are not always taken in consultation with them, which means they sometimes result in increased isolation.

Defending environmental defenders

Every week, people are killed all over the world because they stand up for nature. And a much larger group is silenced by violence, arrests, threats or lawsuits. NGOs and people that protect nature are criminalised as a result.

In addition, female environmental and human rights defenders run the risk of gender-related violence. It is difficult to establish the extent of the problem because many incidents of violence and murder are not recorded. 

The tip of the iceberg

In 2019, at least 212 deaths were recorded by Global Witness, but this is probably just the tip of the iceberg: in many countries the information provided is unreliable due to corruption. Many local deaths in remote areas go unreported too.

‘International human rights law recognises that environmental human rights defenders have rights to carry out their work without interference. States have obligations to protect them from harassment and violence and to provide remedies for violations of their rights.’

UN Special Rapporteur John Knox

Guaranteeing increased safety

These environmental and human rights defenders represent an important cornerstone of sustainable development. This is why we support local organisations and nature conservationists in defending their rights, by jointly determining with them what specific actions we need to take. We provide safety training, offer legal aid and provide tools people can use to protect their environment safely, such as risk analyses and communication protocols.

Improved legal position

To achieve a structural solution we advocate for better legal position of environmental human rights defenders at the national and international level.

Binding Treaty

An international Binding Treaty must be developed that environmental human rights defenders can use to hold companies to account if their rights are violated. Curious about the latest developments in this Treaty?

Want to know more about human rights and nature?

More information

Liliana Jauregui

Liliana Jauregui

Senior Expert Environmental Justice

Antoinette Sprenger

Senior Expert Environmental Justice