October 11, 2018

Groups and individuals who advocate and work on the issue of human rights, environmental protection and natural resource conservation from across 13 countries launched the Asia Pacific Network of Environmental Defenders (APNED) in Bali, Indonesia, October 11, 2018.

APNED will serve as a campaign network that aims to coordinate campaign initiatives of regional members and encourage solidarity among grassroots and frontline defenders across the region. It will also strengthen the coordination and solidarity, as well as raise national and local concerns of environment defenders in different international policy spaces.

In light of its six points of unity, APNED members agreed to collectively pursue efforts on monitoring human rights violations, provide solidarity support, conduct national and international campaigns, and engage with international institutions (e.g. the United Nations) to advocate for the recognition and protection of environmental defenders in the Asia Pacific region, especially in their respective countries.

According to its launch statement, APNED welcomes the recognition of environment defenders in their struggle to protect the environment and assert people’s rights as reflected in the newly-signed Escazú Agreement by Latin American governments to protect environment defenders during the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. This is alongside another recognition of the struggle of environmental defenders through the awarding of United Nations Champions of the Earth Award to fellow environment defenders and indigenous rights activist Joan Carling. Carling was maliciously tagged as terrorist by the Philippine government due to her stances against oppressive policies and projects in the country.

APNED also challenged the governments in Asia Pacific to recognize the role of defenders in protecting the environment and their contribution to sustainable development by asserting people’s rights over management and control of their natural resources.

It can be remembered that at least 207 deaths of land and environmental defenders were reported globally in the Global Witness 2017 report, with Brazil, Philippines and Colombia as top most dangerous places for environment defenders.#