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Environmental Conflicts and Defenders

Author: Arnim Scheidel

In: Global Environmental Change, Vol 63, 2020, pp. 1-12

This analysis of 2743 cases highlights the characteristics of environmental conflicts and the activists involved, examining their mobilization strategies and the need for specific support for indigenous for indigenous activists. The study finds that bottom up movements for more sustainable and socially just approaches to the environment can be found worldwide, and across all income groups, indicating that grass roots environmentalism is a promising force for sustainability. The authors note that environmental defenders are of ten members of vulnerable groups and use largely nonviolent methods, playing a significant role in preventing environmental destruction in 11 per cent of cases studied. However, these activists also face serious risk of criminalization (20 per cent of cases), physical violence (18 per cent) and assassination (13 per cent). These risks increase significantly when indigenous people are involved. The analysis is based on the Environmental Justice Atlas, (EJAtlas) database), which the authors created in 2011 to monitor worldwide climate justice protests.

See also: Grist, ‘For Indigenous Protesters, Defending the Environment Can Be Fatal’, Eco Watch, 11 June 2020.