Colombia Is Still the Deadliest Place to Be an Environmental Activist, Report Finds
Colombia was the most dangerous nation in 2019 to be an environmental activist and experts suspect that conditions will only get worse.
More than 100 human rights defenders were killed across the Latin country in 2019. Community leaders, teachers and park rangers are among the more than 50 human rights defenders and community leaders additionally killed since the beginning of this year.
In October and November, Colombia experienced a large wave of demonstrations following divisive elections and public opposition to large projects that posed threats to the environment. In some instances, these mass protests were met with police brutality and targeted violence against human rights defenders, according to the Global Analysis 2019 report published in January 2020 by Irish human rights organization Front Line Defenders. The report details physical assaults, defamation campaigns, digital security threats, judicial harassment and gendered attacks against global activists at the forefront of social change.
The Philippines, Honduras, Mexico and Brazil all ranked among the deadliest countries after Colombia, according to NBC. Globally, at least 304 human rights defenders in 31 countries were targeted and killed for their work.
Additional findings from the report found that:
- More two-thirds of global killings occurred in Latin America.
- Forty percent of those killed worked on matters surrounding land, indigenous rights, and environmental issues.
- A majority of those killed (85 percent) had previously been threatened.
Human rights defenders were targeted in almost all countries that saw waves of public uprisings and continues to threaten activists. Just last week, a 45-year-old Costa Rican indigenous defender was killed by an armed mob while trying to reclaim ancestral land, according to The Guardian. NPR reports that Mexican officials are still investigating the suspicious murder of two men connected to a butterfly sanctuary found dead earlier this month in Michoacán. In Indonesia, Mongabay reports that the family of a murdered environmental activist is calling on national authorities to take over the death investigation.
"The role human rights defenders (HRDs) played in these protests ranged from organizing and mobilizing to monitoring and documenting human rights violations, and to assisting those who were injured or arrested. The causes of street protests and social unrest differed, but tended to revolve around outright rejection of deep economic inequality, rampant corruption, and calls for greater civil and political rights," Frontline Defenders said.
The report comes after the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern at the "staggering number" of activists killed in Colombia, according to The Guardian. A separate UN report found that 107 human rights defenders were killed in 2019 despite a 2016 peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia aimed at improving conditions in poor, rural areas where most of the murders occurred.
In addition to physical attacks, human rights defenders were also subject to restrictive legislation, intimidation, and threats attacking an individual's safety. Further measures were taken to hinder their ability to work online and in digital spaces, such as internet shutdowns and blocking communications systems like social media and instant messaging.
"Further conflict appears inevitable as governments in the region, regardless of political persuasion, continued to embrace mega-development projects and grant major concessions to transnational companies in order to secure such projects," reads the report.
Even in the face of life-threatening opposition, the work of human rights defenders was responsible for positive change around the world, concludes the report. Following huge pressure from human rights activists, Jordan's Parliament withdrew the Cybercrime Bill in February 2019 restricting freedom of speech and the right to privacy. In Morocco, the women of the Sulaliyat tribe were granted the right to inherit and own land and nine protestors in southern Madagascar successfully halted a mine project after the government declared that the benefits of the proposed mine were not clear.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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