The portal has been designed and built following suggestions received from you, the world’s environmental human rights defenders (EHRDs).
We hope you will find it useful as you continue your vital work to preserve the natural environment and to defend rights.
EHRDs are individuals and groups who work to protect the environment, on which so many human rights depend. We cannot fully enjoy our human rights to life, health, food, water, housing, and many others, in the absence of a healthy environment. Ideally, EHRDs are able to exercise their human rights to freedom of expression and association, to information, to participation in decision-making, and to effective remedies in order to help to protect the environment and the rights that depend upon it from exploitation and unsustainable use. In this way, the relationship between human rights and the environment can be a virtuous circle: the exercise of human rights helps to protect the environment, and a healthy environment helps to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights.
Unfortunately, the reality too often falls short of this ideal. In many countries, EHRDs face a high risk of violence and even death. On average, more than three EHRDs are killed every week. Many more are threatened and harassed. Throughout our work as the first and second Special Rapporteurs on human rights and the environment, we have become aware of the sheer scale of this global crisis, and along with many others, we have tried to raise awareness of it around the world.
The Universal Rights Group, UNEP, Global Witness, and N1M developed this web portal to bring together information about the threats facing EHRDs, and resources that they and others can use. The portal describes the obligations States have under international human rights law to protect them; explains how to bring claims to international and regional human rights mechanisms; provides links to organisations that can provide technical and financial assistance; and offers some inspiring stories from around the world, showcasing the work of EHRDs.
While many aspects of the relationship of human rights and the environment are important, none is more urgent than the need to protect EHRDs. Without your efforts, protecting the environment and fulfilling the right to live in a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment would be impossible. The world owes you a debt of gratitude, and the international community must redouble its efforts to protect your and support your work. Our hope is that this portal will be one small step in that direction.
Thank you for your visit.