Women human rights defenders (WHRDs) safeguarding environmental rights are a fundamental pillar in the protection of their communities and natural resources for future generations. However, today they are confronted with an unprecedented scale of persecution and repression. This Tuesday, in cooperation with ProtectDefenders.eu and MEP María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos (Renew) I hosted a conference on this issue at the European Parliament: „Women human rights defenders, at the forefront of environmental preservation.“ – The event aimed to raise the visibility on the situation and challenges faced by WHRDs. With our guests Cristina Palabay (Karapatan, Philippines) and Milena Florez (Movimiento Ríos Vivos Antioquia, Colombia) we discussed how to provide better protection for WHRDs and create a more favorable environment for their work in the years to come.
„The Philippines is currently one of the deadliest country for defenders of the environment. Activists are getting killed when they resist mining, agribusiness and logging. I have worked and the Philippines myself and it pains me to see how indigenous people are being threatened and harassed.“ – Hannah Neumann, MEP
Although I know from personal experience about the situation on the Philippines, listening to Cristina Palabay’s testimony left me anew with shock. And Milena Flores input on the situation in Colombia were not any less alarming – in terms of the human rights situation and the state of the environment.
„Environmental defenders are fighting for rights that affect us all. Land defenders in the Amazon rainforest, for instance, are preserving the forest from illegal logging, at a time where are our planet is facing a climate collapse, deforestation threats us all.
We are talking about people that are upholding values and rights that might appear as something normal to us here in Europe but these brave people are getting killed for their activism.“ – Hannah Neumann, MEP