APFSD 2022 Side Event: Ensuring the Participation of Environmental Human Rights Defenders to Achieve the SDGs towards Development Justice

March 11, 2022

Ensuring the Participation of Environmental Human Rights Defenders to Achieve the SDGs towards Development Justice

Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development 2022 – Side Event

March 31, 2022 | 12:45 – 14:00 (GMT+7) | Zoom

Environmental human rights defenders (EHRDs) are being attacked despite protecting our world’s ecosystems. According to a report by international NGO Global Witness, 227 land and environmental defenders were killed in 2020. Of this number, 43 or almost 19% occured in the Asia Pacific. The killings were mostly related to logging, water and dams, and mining and extractives. From the incidences, 71% were defending forests which are important for climate change mitigation especially amidst the climate crisis.

Indigenous people were disproportionately affected, with a third of the killings belonging to indigenous groups and communities while they make up only 5% of the population. Women comprise 10% of the killings, also facing gender-specific threats including sexual violence. There are other forms of threats and attacks to EHRDs such as arrests, smear campaigns and non-lethal attacks.

Natural resource-dependent communities and organizations are working on SDG 14 by managing and protecting coastal and marine ecosystems since these are the sources of their livelihood. Indigenous people and communities residing in forests are working on SDG 15 by protecting forests from destructive projects as part of their culture using their traditional knowledge and practices. Women environmental defenders strive for greater participation and leadership in community activities.

EHRDs are underappreciated or even treated as enemies of the state despite contributing to halt 11% of environmentally destructive and socially conflictive projects world-wide according to a research paper released in 2020. This is attributed to their defense of the environment and livelihoods and protection against violence and repression. Their bottom-up approach proved that grassroots environmentalism was a promising force for sustainability.

Governments have turned a blind eye to the threats faced by environmental defenders and it is important that CSOs are able to support each other to improve their situation and stop further shrinking of civic space.

LINK TO REGISTRATION: https://bit.ly/3CaqczA



  1. Share the barriers of EHRDs in the Asia Pacific region under the COVID-19 pandemic in achieving development justice with particular focus on violations on environmental and civil-political human rights
  2. Share the best practices of EHRDs in working towards SDG 5, 14 and 15 in the framework of development justice
  3. Draw recommendations for the CSOs and other stakeholders to address challenges in achieving development justice


Topics to be discussed in the webinar

  • Sharing of barriers of EHRDs in doing their work related to the SDGs
  • Importance of access to justice to address human rights violations on EHRDs
  • Sharing of best practices of EHRDs in working towards development justice
  • Presentation of the recommendations from the first Asia Pacific EHRD Forum


About the organizers

Formed in 2018, the Asia Pacific Network of Environmental Defenders (APNED) is composed of individuals, civil society organizations, non-government organizations, grassroots and people’s organizations that seeks to uphold human rights related to the environment. This includes ensuring an enabling environment for environmental defenders to do their work and protecting their civil and political rights. It is a solidarity campaign network that aims to launch coordinated campaigns, encourage greater solidarity, and raise the local and national concerns of environmental defenders in different international policy spaces, and to increase the capacity of environmental defenders in the region.

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) is a global network of Indigenous Peoples rights activists, advocates, and organizations committed to advancing the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination, land and life. IPMSDL stands for the right of Indigenous Peoples to govern themselves free from imperialism, state oppression, and human rights violations. IPMSDL also works for the empowerment of Indigenous Peoples, and for the victory of the people’s will over the powers-that-be while recognizing the legitimacy of the different forms of struggle and self-determination that Indigenous Peoples opt to employ.