For more examples of our impact, see our 2020 annual report
Land and environmental defenders play a crucial role in protecting their land, and our climate, against destructive business practices.
Each year, we publish the number of defenders killed, as well as highlighting the other challenges they face, including violent attacks, criminalisation and threats to their families. Our 2020 Annual Report showed 212 defenders had been killed in the previous year, the highest number since we began recording this information in 2012.
We were able to bring global attention to this terrible atrocity, as well as shining a spotlight on the work of our partners, particularly those from indigenous communities, who are often facing some of the most brutal responses to their campaigns to safeguard their land. We received over 1,000 media hits with a potential reach of over 3 billion and our content was shared by global climate leaders, including Greta Thunberg and Greenpeace, as well as international media, including CNN, the BBC and TIME.
We hear from defenders that this kind of awareness-raising is an important role Global Witness can play, as it makes it harder for governments and companies to ignore their campaigns and can, at times, offer a layer of protection against state and corporate-sanctioned violence.
Our investigative report, Trading Risks, uncovered how two major US commodity traders, ADM and Bunge, failed to ensure that the Indonesian palm oil mills they source from are free from abuse against land and environmental defenders. Following this, ADM initiated an initial investigation into all of the mills identified as problematic in the report. They have already added 9 of these on to their grievance list and committed to further investigating an additional 36 mills. Wilmar, the world's largest palm oil producer, which was also implicated in our report, committed to developing a “standalone Human Rights Defender policy.”