A new report by Global Witness has found that 2015 saw the highest number of environmental activists ever killed in a single year. However, the report only includes confirmed deaths and as a result the true number is likely to be much higher.
185 environmental activists in 16 countries were killed in 2015, averaging out to roughly 3 deaths every single week of the year, 40% of them were members of indigenous groups. Last years total was a 59% increase on 2014, which in itself was a 20% increase on 2013, pointing towards an upward trend that will continue into the future.
The top 3 countries in terms of activists killed last year were Brazil with 50 and The Philippines with 33, record highs for both countries, and Columbia with 26.
The driving force behind the killing of environmental activists is the practice of land and resource grabbing by businesses, governments and criminal organizations seeking to meet the growing demand for raw resources like timber and various minerals.
The mining industry alone accounted for 42 of last years deaths, the most by a single sector, agricultural businesses came in second with 20 deaths and the logging industry came third with 15.
Global Witness concluded the report with a number of recommendations to the local governments of these countries. They called for environmental activists to have more protections from violence, as well as greater investigation into not only the perpetrators of these crimes but the companies behind them. Additionally, companies should respect native groups land claims, seek their approval and their right to say no to these projects.