A record number of environmental activists were killed last year, according to a report released Wednesday by the NGO Global Witness.
The 2019 total of 212 activists killed (more than four per week) represents a nearly 30% jump from number killed in 2018, and almost certainly under-represents the true number because many killings go undocumented, the NGO said. Indigenous activists make up a disproportionate share of environmental activists who have been killed: one-third of all fatal attacks since 2015 have been against Indigenous people. In addition to being killed, women fighting to protect land and water resources from mining, fossil fuel extraction, and agribusiness also face sexual violence and are targeted by smear campaigns often using sexist or sexual content.
“If we really want to make plans for a green recovery that puts the safety, health and well-being of people at its heart, we must tackle the root causes of attacks on defenders, and follow their lead in protecting the environment and halting climate breakdown,” Rachel Cox of Global Witness, told TIME. “Land and environmental defenders are the people who take a stand against this.”