Defenders of the Environment Project

Over the past decade, thousands of indigenous land rights activists and community environmental leaders have been assassinated, with many thousands more facing violent threats. Although this phenomenon is global in scale, particularly severe violence against environmental activists has been documented in Honduras, Brazil, Indonesia and the Philippines. Likewise, many Latin American and Asian countries have witnessed at least moderate levels of violence.

Shockingly, scholars still know little about the logic of this violence, its political and environmental effects, and its role in shaping environmental advocacy patterns across the globe. While a handful of human rights organizations and environmental NGOs have attempted to highlight the importance of this issue, data on the scale of violence is limited, and there has been little substantive academic study of this tragedy.

Supported by the UCSB Carsey-Wolf Center, professors Matto Mildenberger and Leah Stokes launched a long-term research project to:

  1.  document the full scale of violence against environmental activists
  2.  study the effects of this violence on environmental outcomes and representations of this violence within national media
  3.  draw attention to this unfolding tragedy through interactive web tools

Professors Mildenberger and Stokes used Carsey-Wolf Center funds in early 2018 to develop an online platform to collect and organize data on environmental activist violence. CWC funds also supported efforts to develop research relationships with several environmental NGOs actively tracking this issue in Colombia.

This project is a recipient of a Fall 2017 Carsey-Wolf Center Faculty Research Support Grant.